Background Children’s state of nutrition is influenced by selected environmental factors, parents’ level of education, and familial eating habits.
Objectives To study the relationship among anthropometric parameters, child-feeding practices and factors which influence growth and development; to encourage children and families to have a healthy lifestyle.
Methods The study group comprised 147 preschool-aged children, from a kindergarten in Craiova. Inclusion criteria: children aged 3–6 years, with primary obesity: BMI ≥percentile 95/sex/age, overweight: 85≤BMI<95 percentile/sex/age, normal weight: 5≤BMI<85 percentile/sex/age, underweight: BMI<5 percentile/sex/age. We took into consideration: anthropometric parameters, feeding habits (food intake, meals), environmental factors (family, kindergarten), and filled-in questionnaires. We developed educational materials for parents, highlighting the importance of physical activity and nutrition (meal plans).
Results The prevalence of overweight was 23.3%, obesity 6.2% and underweight 1.4%. Predisposing and determinant factors of underweight were low birth weight, poor socio-economic conditions, incorrect food diversification, poor food intake, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Sweets consumption (dessert, biscuits, chocolate, sodas, ice cream, and/or candy on a daily basis) constituted 38% of the daily average intake of the obese/overweight children; on the other hand, only 3 of 10 preschoolers consume green vegetables daily. 58% obese and 61% overweight preschool-aged children consume junk food (burgers, fried chicken, pizza, chips). 38% of preschool-aged children spend more than 2 hours in front of the television/computer screen every day.
Conclusions Preschoolers are considered a very important target group, since early, healthy eating habits represent the most efficient method to preserve the state of health in the long run. Families should be educated to be aware of the impact they have on their children’s development and health.
- growth and development
- preschool children
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