Researcher: Poor eating habits cause malnutrition in children

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Illustration by Feri Fenoria

UNAIR NEWS – Adequate nutrition is needed by preschoolers in the process of growth and development. The adequate nutritional needs can be fulfilled by taking into account various food in the right amount in accordance with the nutritional needs.

In this case, the child’s diet is usually determined by the mother. However, it can be a problem in preschoolers, because the development of a child’s sense of taste can be more selective in choosing food tastes. There is also a distraction from snacks or unhealthy snacks widely sold in the environment around children.

“In the end, children can develop unfavorable eating habits causing malnutrition problems in children,” said a lecturer of Faculty of Nursing (FKp) of Universitas Airlangga, Eka Mishbahatul Mar’ah Has, S.Kep., Ns., M.Kep .

Seeing this phenomenon, Eka conducted a study with Nursalam, Ferry Efendi, Arief Yuni Sufyanti, and Has Dwi Faqihatus Syarifah. The study targeted mothers and preschool children (3-5 years old) in toddlers integrated healthcare post (Posyandu) in the Gresik.

The study, entitled ” Pre-Schoolers’ Eating Behavior in Urban Communities: An Overview ” aims to find a picture of eating habits in preschoolers living in urban areas. The research was carried out using a cross-sectional descriptive design. The sample in the study was 90 pairs of mothers and preschoolers who were selected by simple random sampling technique.

Demographic data were obtained using a questionnaire completed by the mother. Meanwhile, to evaluate children’s eating habits, a 24-hour dietary recall (24HR)instrument was used . Then, the level of child energy sufficiency is measured by comparing the results of 24HR with the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for preschoolers in Indonesia.

Dietary diversity is evaluated by examining variations in food consumed by children, where the diet must contain carbohydrates, animal or vegetable protein, fruit vegetables, healthy oils, milk and water. Then, the data was described using frequency and percentage.

The results showed that the majority of preschoolers had a good level of energy sufficiency from 58 respondents (64.4%). However, there are still children who have low levels of energy sufficiency. Most children also have a good variety of diets, but there are still children whose diets have not varied.

Energy is needed in the process of growth and development in preschool children. The biggest energy sources are carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Indonesian people generally get energy from carbohydrates and starch-based foods and cereals.

“The results showed that most of the dietary diversity applied to preschoolers was carbohydrates, animal and vegetable proteins, and milk. Vegetables and fruits are rarely found in the diet, “said Eka.

Eka also stated that the vitamin content in vegetables and fruits is needed by preschoolers. Although the energy data showed enough in child, there are many children who lack other nutrients such as vitamins due to lack of diversity in children’s diets.

“In this case, mothers have a very important role in determining diets and instilling good eating habits in preschoolers,” Eka said.

Author: Fariz Ilham Rosyidi

Editor: Khefti Al Mawalia  


Has Eka Mishbahatul Marah, Nursalam, Efendi Ferry, Arief Yuni Sufyanti, Has Dwi Faqihatus Syarifah. 2019. Pre-Schoolers’ Eating Behavior in Urban Communities: An Overview. Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development, Volume : 10, Issue : 8

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