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Human Nutrition Department at the College of Health Sciences, Resumes Smart Start Campaign at Schools in-Person | Qatar University

Human Nutrition Department at the College of Health Sciences, Resumes Smart Start Campaign at Schools in-Person

بعد تنفيذ إحدى المشاريع التعليمية مع الأطفال

The Human Nutrition Department (HND) at the College of Health Sciences (CHS), member of QU-Health at Qatar University (QU), is back to in-person engagement in primary school classrooms. Smart Start is a nutrition education program promoting healthy eating and active lifestyle and targeting schoolchildren in Qatar.

During this Fall semester, HND continued pursuing Smart Start objectives in educating children about healthy eating, nutrition and its effect on health.

Childhood obesity is a major growing health problem that can profoundly affect children's physical health, social, and emotional well-being, and self-esteem. Building healthy habits and being active at a young age will persist in adult age and reduce the risk of chronic diseases and obesity-related complications. In addition, the pandemic has shifted dietary and lifestyle habits of many families. The poor diet quality and sedentary lifestyle acquired may affect the immune system. Therefore, the campaign aims to revive a healthy culture and instill proper habits in children as a preventive action in line with Qatar Vision 2030. After the series of webinars organized during the pandemic and gradual return to in-person events, Smart Start program comes back to advocate children wellbeing in school classrooms.

HND senior students delivered a variety of interactive activities related to nutrition and healthy lifestyle to primary students at Etqan Academy School. Up to 10 classrooms were covered and more than 200 students participated in the program with their teachers. The activities addressed several main areas, which included defining food groups and applying Myplate guidelines, understanding the importance of a healthy breakfast and creating a healthy lunchbox, outline harmful effects of sugar and engaging physical activity.

The first activity introduced children to the main food groups, healthier options that exist in each and the importance of eating breakfast. The kids matched different food items into the appropriate food groups. Children implemented the learned concepts and created their own healthy breakfast and lunchbox using a variety of food models in order to compose an optimal meal. Moreover, the second activity included several games that teach children about harmful effects of eating large amounts of sugar. Kids used sugar cubes to estimate the amount of sugar present in most commonly consumed food items and beverages that are high in sugar. Besides to healthy eating, Smart Start program has been keen to highlight the importance of physical activity in daily life to ensure optimal growth and development. Kids were encouraged to apply some fun activities in class such as ball-balance exercise and many more entertaining games.

The kids enjoyed the activities, learned about different food groups and the importance of eating healthy and being active. Ms. Al-Jazi Al-Qahtani and Ms. Aya Hamdan, Teaching Assistants at the HND, stated: “Smart Start program is achieving success in its fourth year; we are receiving many positive feedbacks and invite requests from elementary schools around Doha. Child health has been a top priority as they represent the future nation. Efforts of the program aimed to raise awareness in a distinctive and developed way by drawing a deliberate awareness plan to achieve the objectives of the program while creating a friendly, energetic, and fun environment that make children enjoy learning”.

Ms. Marlies Kreutzberger, Principal of Etqan Academy School and Mr. Matthew Morrison, Primary IB Coordinator, added: “Partnering with Qatar University- Smart Start has been a wonderful opportunity for our students. They have provided hands-on educational opportunities around healthy eating that connect directly to our IB Curriculum. Smart Start Campaign is a vital project that can help our youngest members of society become more aware of the choices they make and ways in which they can lead healthier lifestyles. Through fun and engaging activities, the students will gain lasting memories that will influence lifestyle choices in years to come throughout their development and into adulthood.”