Shanghai is gearing up to hire an army of nutritionists to work
at its schools in response to a survey that found many local school
children have unbalanced diets.
The city's goal is to place nutritionists at half of its schools
next year, up from the current 30 percent. Eighty percent of the
schools will be covered in 2008 and all of them by 2009.
The move comes in response to the findings of a recent survey by
educational authorities which found that many students in the city
have poor diets.
The survey sampled 3,325 school children studying in Nanhui,
Yangpu and Jing'an districts and the Pudong New Area. The survey
ran from 2004 until just recently.
The survey found that students who earn low grades tend to favor
fried and high-calorie foods and dislike vegetables and fruits.
Many students did not get enough vitamins in their diets.
Less than 40 percent of the children drank milk on a daily
basis. The percentage was even lower for children studying in the
city's outskirts. About 8 percent of the children said they skipped
breakfast several times a week, and their breakfasts lacked
The survey found that over 10 percent of the children are either
obese or too thin, and many suffer from anemia or calcium
In reference to the findings, Cai Meiqin, a nutritionist, warned
that if these children continued to have poor diets, their
intelligence and memory could be impaired. "Improper eating and
living habits can cause problems," she said.
She added that skipping breakfast and eating too much for dinner
can cause problems for children. Breakfast and dinner should each
contribute 30 percent of a day's entire caloric intake.
A lack of outdoor activities and too much time spent watching TV
or sitting in front of the computer screen also affects children's
eating habits, Cai said.
Shanghai has only about 100 nutritionists and many of them are
not certified. Cai urged the city to train more certified
nutritionists and to work out a standard diet for school
She also called for parents to set a good example by keeping
good eating habits themselves and urged cafeteria workers to
provide tastier foods.
The plan to assign nutritionists to more schools is part of the
latest rounds of the city's three-year scheme to improve the health
of its student population.
(China Daily December 28, 2006)