Dr Elisabeth Weichelsbaum gave delegates this advice as part of her speech on "Nutrition & Health of Schoolchildren" at Nutrition & Health Live this weekend [4/5 Nov].
Picking out the main points of the first Department of Health UK-wide guidlines on improving schoolchildren's health she said: "A key new development was the inclusion of minimum sedentary [sitting] periods."
In response to subsequent questioning from doctors, dietitians and nutrionists in the audience Dr Weichselbaum explained that sedentary periods were an independant risk factor for obesity as they removed the possibility of movement with low accelerometry intensity and were linked to snacking and poor diet.
She had begun her speech by saying that child energy intakes remained below requirements and hadn't improved greatly since 1997.
This coupled with a sizeable drop in physical activity in girls aged five to 15 means that, despite recent improvements, childhood obesity and nutritional deficiencies remain a significant problem for the UK in Dr Weichselbaum's opinion.
One possible solution may be including breakfast in "Healthy Schools" meal plans as the nutrition scientist suggested that: "Eating breakfast may have a protective effect against obesity."
The doctor, who works for the British Nutrition Foundation, added that research into this area didn't account for control factors, such as internal motivation of those who do eat breakfast, but was full of praise for how research has been applied to enhance school food provision in recent years, describing it as "a good example of how policies can positively impact on children's health at a national level".
There remain many areas for improvement though, with Dr Weichselbaum highlighting the severe vitamin and iron deficiencies in girls aged 11-18, especially those who try to lose weight or are vegetarian.
Her conclusion was that there are some ideas to improve school food provision further but these should be combined with a greater focus on physical activity as there is evidence to show that "increased physical activity may lead to improved nutritional absorbtion rates".
For more information visit www.nutrition.org.uk
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Posted on November 9 2011 at 1330 by email@example.com