Consumption of fruits, vegetables, milk, sweet, carbonated soft drinks and fast food among primary school children in AlKarkh sector in Baghdad
Background: A healthy diet is essential for children to reduce the risk of malnutrition in all its forms as well as protects them against many types of illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some types of cancer. Over many years, the dietary behaviours have greatly changed as a result of industrialization, urbanization, and globalization. The World Health Organization has showed that poor dietary habits have emerged as a risk towards health. Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the consumption of fruit, vegetables, milk products, sweets, carbonated drinks, fast food and their dietary correlates, among primary school children in AlKarkh sector in Baghdad. Materials and methods: A Cross sectional study conducted on 210 primary school children with different socioeconomic backgrounds using a prepared questionnaire. A convenient sample from 9 primary schools (public and private), 7-12 years old children, was taken. Results: The majority of children did not consume fruit (63.3%) and vegetables (77%) on daily basis. More than a half (56.7%) of the children did not consume dairy products daily. The daily consumption of fruit and dairy products were significantly associated with young age (P= 0.012, 0.008 respectively). Male children, those in public schools, and those who consume two snacks daily are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese (P= 0.01 and 0.007 respectively). Children who used mobile phones and/or watched T.V for more than two hours tend to have higher BMI than others (P= 0.001 and 0.024 respectively). Conclusion: The results indicated that a high proportion of children in Iraq had a poor consumption of fruits, vegetables and milk/dairy products with strong predilection towards the use of unhealthy food choices (carbonated drinks, sweets and fast food). Therefore, an intervention programs to promote healthy dietary habits are highly recommended. Improving school environments and establishing nutrition programs are extremely needed to promote healthy dietary habits among school children.
vegetables, milk, sweet, carbonated soft; AlKarkh sector in Baghdad