Study on children’s home eating habits planned

National 2 minutes, 20 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

UNIVERSITI Brunei Darussalam (UBD) is looking to do a study that will focus on parental influence on children’s food preferences, said a senior education officer recently.

In a recent interview with The Brunei Times, lecturer at UBD’s Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah Institute of Health Sciences, Dr Nik Ani Afiqah Hj Mohamad Tuah, said while there are no concrete plans on when they intend to do the study, it is in the pipeline.

“We have done quite a few research that looks into the eating behaviour of young children and students in school settings but we have not conducted any outside of schools yet,” she said.

Dr Nik said the study will focus on parent’s eating behavior, while also looking into the link between parent’s dietary patterns and their children’s.

“Modeling is very important for children. It comes from adults, parents and siblings at home. If they learn that the models are not consuming healthy food then they will naturally follow,” she said.

She added: “There are many studies that showed that children start learning as early as when they are in the womb. The taste of the food that the mothers eat will be registered in the memory of the child.”

The UBD lecturer said a study in two Brunei-Muara district primary schools conducted in 2014 showed that children in Brunei are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. It also stated that junk food is increasingly becoming part of Brunei children’s diet.

She said when parents are asked why they still choose to feed their children fast food despite knowing its lack of nutritious value, parents often say they lack are short on time due to their jobs, resulting them to opt for convenient food and snacks.

Dr Nik said the likelihood of children developing chronic diseases and weight related problems will increase if parents continue to feed unhealthy food to their children, which can further shorten the children’s quality of life.

On a separate note, the lecturer said some of her PhD students in UBD are currently developing a mobile app called “Health Coach” that seeks to keep track of its users’ weight and diet changes as one way of tackling chronic diseases in the sultanate.

She said the app includes a tracking device on users’ body weight, dietary intake and physical activity.

The app, which is targeted at adolescents, will include information on maintaining a healthy diet and physical activities.

She said the university is collaborating with the Health Promotion Centre and a local IT company to develop the app.

“We wanted to find out what else we can do to tackle the problem of obesity among children in the country and find out what other services are available,” she said.

The Brunei Times