Kids of modern era need things instantaneously and with the advent of technology, food has also become a click away.The convenience attached with food like instant noodles are popular all over the world for being inexpensive, easy and quick to prepare but also have adverse health effects.
Experts say that a diet loaded with processed and cheap foods like instant noodles that fills bellies but lacks essential nutrients has left the youth and kids overweight or unhealthily thin in Southeast Asia. With nations having booming economies and rising standards of living, many parents do not have the time, money and awareness to steer clear of food that’s hampering their kid’s health, just as in case of Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.
According to a report out on Tuesday from UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, in these three nations, an average of 40% of children aged five and below is malnourished, higher than the global average of on-in-three.
Hasbullah Thabrany, a public health expert in Indonesia said, parents think that filling their child’s stomach is the only important necessity while neglecting the adequate intake of protein, calcium or fibre.“Promotion and advertising is extremely aggressive”, he added.
UNICEF also claimed that the harm done to the children is both a symptom of past deprivation and a predictor of future poverty. It is proven that iron deficiency impairs a child’s ability to learn and raises a woman’s risk of death during or shortly after childbirth. India ranks fourth in the global instant noodles consumption list at 5.5 billion servings per year and Indonesia was the world’s second biggest consumer of instant noodles, after China, according to a report published by the World Instant Noodles Association.
The surprising part is that the figure is more than the total consumed by India and Japan put together.Loaded with preservatives, instant noodles are made of refined flour (maida) and are nothing but a source of empty calories ripped of all nutrition. Excessive consumption may lead to obesity.
The Rising Concern
The trend back to families ditching traditional diets for affordable, accessible and easy to prepare “modern” meals was traced by UNICEF Asia nutrition specialist, Mueni Mutunga. She told that noodles being easy, quick and cheap has become a substitute for a balanced diet. They are low in micronutrients like iron and protein deficient while having high fat and salt content. UNICEF’s report mentioned that as rural population is moving towards cities in search of jobs, the nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, fish and meat are disappearing from diets.
T Jayabalan, a public health expert in Malayaia said “poverty is the key issue”. Households where both parents work need quickly made meals, he added.
World Bank considers countries like Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia middle income countries and so tens of millions of their people struggle to make enough money to live. An official said that low-income households in Malayasia depend on low cost and easily available food items like ready-made noodles, sweet potatoes and soya based products as their major meals. Soon, government intervention might be required, keeping in mind the influence of instant noodles on Southeast Asians’ health. According to the experts, sugar-rich biscuits, beverages and fast food also pose problems in these countries.
Reasons why instant noodles are a villain in our diet:
- Contains MSG (Monosodium glutamate)
- High amount of sodium
- Low in fiber and protein
- Higher amounts of unhealthy fat and carbs
- Contains flavoured agents
- Contains artificial preservatives
- Increased risk of metabolic diseases (Diabetes, hypertension, heart problems, high blood pressure)
To tame that gnawing hunger in your tummy, go for these healthy alternatives which you can try at home:
- Zucchini noodles
- Mix trail of roasted nuts and seeds
- Tofu corn salad
- Mushroom jalapeno sandwich
- Homemade Dark Chocolate Granola bar
- Fruit Smoothies
Fast or canned food can be consumed occasionally but should not be a permanent or even temporary replacement for lunch, breakfast or dinner. Actual meals and real foods should not be replaced by the processed or instant food items. Overindulging and over eating should thus be avoided as it does no one any good.If you must buy a packaged food, it is important to develop a habit of reading the label and paying attention to what all ingredients are present and what nutritional value does the product you are buying carries. Consulting a nutritionist is always the best way out whenever in doubt!