MOH News
Maha Al-Assaf: Malnutrition Causes Psychological Disorders
11 September 2013
Ms. Maha bint Saleh al-Assaf, a Specialist in Therapeutic Nutrition, said that malnutrition can be attributed to the lack of sufficient nutrients, causing health problems. As for the main causes of malnutrition, Ms. al-Assaf pointed out that malnutrition occurs when the body lacks specific nutrients and vitamins, adding that the psychological disturbances may also lead to malnutrition.
Talking about the most prominent signs and symptoms of malnutrition, Ms. al-Assaf said that the symptoms include diarrhea or constipation, decrease or increase in weight, depression, paleness of skin, and digestive disorders. In the severe cases, malnutrition leads to hair loss and causes problems with the skin and nails.
As for the best behaviors that must be followed to avoid malnutrition, Ms. al-Assaf focused on the importance of having 3 main meals including all the nutrients necessary for the growth of the body, as well as having the breakfast meal before going to school. Ms. Al-Assaf added that mothers must also diversify the provided meals, avoid the foods that are high in fat and sugars such as the desserts and chips, and provide healthy meals instead of the junk foods.
Meanwhile, Ms. al-Assaf advised mothers to add fruits and vegetables to the main meals because they contain vitamins and minerals, encourage students to perform exercises since childhood, prepare a fruit juice as well as milk and dairy products for the child instead of the soft drinks, and provide healthy and balanced snacks among the main meals such as fruit salad, yogurt, muffins and fruit juice.
This comes as part of the activities of the health awareness program (My health ... My school) coinciding with the start of the new academic year, as the Ministry of Health (MOH) hosted Ms. Maha bint Saleh al-Assaf and Ms. Bushra al-Rabeeah through its Media and Health Awareness Information Center's toll-free number: 8002494444 and the MOH's account on Twitter: @saudimoh; in order to answer all callers' inquiries on the diseases of malnutrition and importance of the breakfast meal.
Ms. al-Assaf added that malnutrition causes many diseases to children, more importantly, obesity or thinness, anemia, rickets, osteoporosis, and digestive disorders, affirming that malnutrition can be protected through the proper nutrition and intake of healthy foods.
As for the meals that should be available in the school canteens so that they can be safe and attractive for students, Ms. al-Assaf pointed out that chocolate must be avoided and replaced by cake pieces, cookies or biscuits. Moreover, Ms. al-Assaf advised to replace the burger and fried chicken pieces with the sandwiches of falafel, cheese, eggs or sausage, and ensure the safety of preservation and cooking procedures, focusing on the importance of adding milk or dairy products to juices, and providing juices instead of drinks for students.
Within the same vein, Ms. al-Assaf advised to diversify juices, check the ways of conservation and validity, and replace chips with biscuits, cakes or sandwiches. Donuts were also advised to be replaced by biscuits and cakes because they contain a high percentage of sugars and fats.
Finally, Ms. al-Assaf suggested preparing a fruit salad for students, provided that it is closed and kept in cool places away from the sun heat, and replacing the ice cream with juice and cold water.
On the other hand, Ms. Bushra al-Rabeeah, a Specialist in Therapeutic Nutrition at MOH's Media and Health Awareness Information Center, confirmed during her speech on the importance of the breakfast meal that studies have shown the positive influence of the breakfast meal on the psychological state of people, more importantly, children and adolescents, as the breakfast meal enhances the one's behavior and his sense of tranquility, pointing out that the nutrients contained in the breakfast meal help improve the functionality of body organs.
It was also proven that the human body consumes one-quarter to one-third of the daily requirements of nutrients and calories during the morning period; therefore, the ability to focus, understand, notice, and activate among students who go to school without having breakfast or who eat foods lacking nutritional values such as ready-made potatoes, desserts and soft drinks, is much lower than children who have nutritious breakfast in the morning.
Ms. al-Rabeeah added that children acquire most of their behavioral habits during the age of 6 to 12 years; therefore, the parents can exploit the breakfast meal in establishing the good behaviors and talking with their children on the importance of having the breakfast meal in the morning and the way of choosing the healthy alternatives of foods.
As a part of the activities of the health awareness program (My health ... My school), the Ministry of Health (MOH) keeps on hosting a constellation of consultants and specialists through the Media and Health Awareness Information Center's toll-free line: 800-2494444 and the MOH's account on Twitter: @saudimoh; in order to talk about psychological and physical preparation of students for the new academic year, and to provide them and their parents with health tips and guidelines, enabling students to get rid of all negative emotions and psychological problems that can encounter them with the beginning of the new academic year.
Within the same vein, the Program is to host Dr. Nesreen Murad al-Sherbini, a Consultant in Infectious Diseases and Fever, on Thursday 12/9/2013 (corresponding to 6/11/1434 H) from 10:00 a.m. to 12 p.m.; in order to talk about the ways of protecting school students from colds and gastroenteritis.  Later on, the Center will host Ph. Amal bent Mo'aweyah Abul-Jadayel from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in order to talk about the first aid in schools.

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