In this dissertation, my point of consideration is fruit and vegetable consumption among children and how this can be promoted through a website. I have been a kindergarten teacher for one year in Thailand, though I finished my studies in Education in the United Kingdom (UK). Throughout my year of teaching, I have held very strong views about children’s diet. It has always been my belief that healthy diet is one of the most fundamental factors of children’s growth and development. Today, more than ever, I have become increasingly concerned about the diet of children.
I found it alarming to encounter parents who allow their children to consume foods that were full of fat, sugar and salt. Along with this, these parents allow their children to go on with very low consumption of fruits and vegetables. Based on my experience and observations as a kindergarten teacher, some parents carry out these practices because of the convenience that junk foods or ready meals provide them. Since many parents have very busy lifestyles, they often may not have the time to look into what their children eat [neglect seems judgemental.
However, some parents may lack sufficient knowledge of a healthy diet, as well as the necessary skill for cooking. This may be because they themselves have not been brought up eating a healthy diet and parents nowadays live in very busy, modern environments where most of the time is spent in work and much of the meals are ready-made or instant. On a global scale, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1994) states that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption has become a worldwide priority.
Therefore, finding a concrete solution to this issue, and developing effective ways of implementing that solution in the face of today’s increasingly complicated and busy lifestyle, would be a very worthwhile and necessary endeavour. One promising idea could be the utilisation of technology—the very same thing that brought about the existence of artificial, fatty, salty, and sugary food—to become a tool for the implementation of possible solutions to the problem.
And when we talk about technology that could be used as an effective tool for the purpose of informing people and influencing their preferences, we talk about the World Wide Web. According to National Statistics (2005), over half of the households in Great Britain have access to the Internet from the convenience of their own homes. To give the exact figures, that would be 55 percent of UK households, roughly estimated to have a total of 13. 1 million in May 2005.
In the three months that preceded the said National Statistics survey, almost two thirds or 60 percent of adults in Great Britain had already used the Internet. To translate things, these statistics could only speak of how powerful a device websites could become in informing and influencing the people of Britain. Meanwhile, in Thailand, the Internet has also become more and more vital as an instrument in gaining information and knowledge. Internet users in Thailand have reached an estimated 7 million in 2004 alone, and are still on the rise.
Approximately 10-11 hours per week are spent online by an average Internet user in the country. The 2003 Internet users survey indicate that information searching is one of the primary activities conducted by Thai users whenever they are online (National Electronics and Computer Technology Center, 2005). In light of the matters discussed above, I have developed the desire to initiate a project that would promote healthy diet among children, specifically one that would increase children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables, by means of a website.
It is my belief that some parents, in both Thailand and UK, may not have assistance in menu planning and skills in cooking in order to approach and encourage their children to consume more fruits and vegetables. Thus, it became my intent to construct a website that would become a place for parents and care givers to find assistance and to learn essential skills in encouraging their children to consume more fruits and vegetables. On this website, parents would be able to exchange ideas, experiences, tips and healthy recipes that would enable them to cook for their children.
At present time, an array of recipes, menus, and tips have been made available in the website. Continuous update of such information and suggestions from visitors are being employed to build on existing ones. In the same way, the website would make easy recipes available for children themselves. A section for children will be included, wherein aside from the recipes for children, there would be simple activity sheets such as colouring pages and simple games. This section is intended to serve the purpose of familiarising children with fruits and vegetables, as well as encouraging them to consume more fruits and vegetables.
Further, as a graduate of a Bachelors degree in Business in Thailand, it has been in my perspective to harness the website to become a business venture. If the circumstances allow the website to become sufficiently well-known, I intend to turn it into a commercial website by selling advertising space. However, I would be particular that any advertisement should reinforce the real purposes of the website, which is to promote fruit and vegetable consumption among children, and not defeat that purpose.
Childhood Obesity The U. S. Dept of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (2000) defines “obesity” as a state wherein the increase in or the accumulated natural energy reserve in the fatty tissues is connected with higher probability of mortality or specific health conditions. The World health Organization also defines obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Today, it is perceived both as a clinical condition and a severe public health quandary, having been proven to lead to diverse health problems such as sleep apnea, diabetes mellitus type 2, osteoarthritis, and other cardiovascular diseases (U. S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health 2000).
Meanwhile, the United States National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (2007) explains that obesity develops in due course when there exists an imbalance between calories taken in and out. More explicitly, this imbalance is caused by the combination of two factors: taking in excessive energy through the food and drink consumed, and not taking sufficient physical activity to expend the energy consumed. These two factors have been observed to be commonplace among children in developed areas like UK (World Health Organization, 2004).
However, the United States National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (2007) accounts that different people have different balance between calories that are taken in and out, and that the difference could be propelled not only by physical inactivity, but also by genetic makeup, eating foods that are high in fat and calories, and simply overeating. Evidence would suggest that obesity has become such a commonplace disease among people of all ages that the World Health Organisation (2002) has become increasingly concerned over the grave complications that this disease has been causing.
The WHO has even considered obesity to be a “global epidemic. ” However, a more pressing concern is the heightening incidence of obesity among children. In UK, for instance, studies suggest that there are now twice as many obese children (1 in 10) as there were ten years ago (National Audit, 2001). In the years between 1989 and 1998, the British Nutrition Foundation (2003) found that the incidence of obesity among children aged 3-4 rose from 5. 4 to 9. 2 percent in UK. Both data from UK and Thailand confirm that obesity indeed plagues people at the early stages of their lives.
This poses more serious complications as the British Nutrition Foundation found that once obesity has developed, the tendency is that it will track into adulthood. Specifically, this could mean lipid levels or level of cholesterol in the body that are beyond normal, intensified stress on weight-bearing joints, increased threat of hypertension, and development into Type 2 diabetes. There may also be reverberations for people’s psychosocial well being (British Nutrition Foundation, 2003).