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|21 February, 2018

Busy schedules force UAE residents to skip breakfast

The two biggest barriers were lack of time and lack of inspiration for breakfast ideas.

Image used for illustrative purposes. Customers eat breakfast at Homegirl Cafe in Los Angeles, April 23, 2010. Picture taken April 23, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Image used for illustrative purposes.

Image used for illustrative purposes. Customers eat breakfast at Homegirl Cafe in Los Angeles, April 23, 2010. Picture taken April 23, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Image used for illustrative purposes.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A recent YouGov survey has revealed that 70 per cent of UAE residents fail to eat a balanced, nutritious breakfast, putting the spotlight once again on the importance of food education in schools.

Even though breakfast is commonly cited as the most important meal of the day, of the 1,000 residents surveyed, it showed that the majority is not giving enough focus to it.

The two biggest barriers reported by residents when it comes to eating a healthy breakfast were a lack of time, with 29 per cent of respondents blaming busy schedules and 15 per cent citing a lack of inspiration for breakfast ideas.

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Additionally, over half - 54 per cent - said they skip breakfast or eat it on the go. When it comes to preparation time, 75 per cent of those surveyed said when they do eat it, they only spend 15 minutes or less preparing and eating the meal.

The findings were revealed at the launch of a new educational, healthy eating initiative by Arla Food Moovers, an innovative lesson curriculum with the aim of encouraging children to re-think their eating habits.

The programme aims to empower school children to take care of their health through hands-on education about food, and it has already been rolled out across 200 schools in Denmark.

Piloted at Dubai British School Jumeirah Park on Tuesday, 84 students were asked to select a common challenge faced when it comes to striking the right nutritional balance.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Heather Mann, Principal of Dubai British School said the children's concerns coincided with those highlighted in the YouGov survey.

"A high percentage of students eat breakfast everyday, but it isn't a substantial, well-balanced breakfast as many feel hungry soon after. Time was also an issue as many said they eat a better breakfast on the weekends, when they have more time," said Mann.

Asked to find a solution to the problem, the students then presented their suggestions to Jameela Al Muhairi, Minister of State for General Education in the UAE, and Esben Lunde, the Danish Minister of Food and Environment in Denmark.

Although Dubai British School has already implemented an effective cross-curricular policy for food education, Mann said one suggestion that came from the pupils on Tuesday was the introduction of a breakfast club."Time seems to be a big concern for many students when it comes to eating a balanced breakfast, so they suggested we start a breakfast club called 'Wake up, shake up', where they can come to school early, exercise, then eat a good meal to start the day. It's something we are looking into."

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Lunde said it is integral for children understand the origins of food and the importance of healthy eating. "This programme is about giving students responsibility. It encourages them to learn about sustainable food production and how to reduce food waste."

He said the spotlight on global food waste has been "a time of awakening and awareness making", adding that we have to act now before it grows into an enormous problem.

"Governments need to launch education materials for schools about animals welfare, healthy eating and reducing food waste. The young generation are the future, we need to educate them to eliminate further health and environment complications."

Three healthy breakfasts

>Classic - Eggs, whole meal toast and fruit

>On the go - Smoothie: almond milk, several varieties of fruit, cup of spinach, chia seeds or flax seeds

>Slow burner - Oatmeal or porridge topped with fruits (berries) and seeds (chia, flax etc. Keeps you full for 4-5 hours)

Nutritionist Kimi Sokhi's top tips for parents

>Kids don't want to skip breakfast. It's about fitting it in with their schedule. Make time in the morning for breakfast, just like we make time for lunch and dinner. If it is part of their daily routine and given priority, they won't skip it

>Why a balanced nutrition matters: Whether pre-school age, pre-teen or teen, children are growing rapidly until ages of 18 or 19. Their brain is still developing too so proper nutrition and a balanced diet is important for development

>Remember: deficiencies in diet can lead to deficiencies in health

>Nutrition is very important for cognitive and brain health. If you are not getting proper nutrition your brain is not getting its source of energy to learn and retain info at school

>Food education for kids from a young age makes them more interested. The more holistic the strategy, the better the learner. Start a home fruits and vegetables patch, let them join in with cooking

KT Nano Edit

Meal of life

Guide to healthy living is simple: eat healthy and stay fit. Yet, appallingly, many of us tend to give a short shrift to our well-being in our run against time. Breakfast is the single most important meal of the day, and should not be avoided or missed. Feed yourself, make time for a hearty breakfast everyday. You'll be surprised what wonders it'll do to your day and life.

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