Improper diets: Children not eating a balanced meal – report

Fruits and vegetables sold at the Suva market. Picture: FILE

Nearly 55 per cent of Fijian children between six to 23 months are consuming diets with the minimum number of recommended food groups, according to a new United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) child nutrition report “Fed to Fail? the crisis of children’s diets in early life”.

In a statement, UNICEF said that in an analysis of 91 countries, including 14 Pacific island countries, the report found that only half of children aged six to 23 months were being fed the minimum recommended number of meals a day, while just a third consumed the minimum number of food groups they needed to thrive.

“In the Pacific region alone, the proportion of children between six to 23 months consuming diets with the minimum number of recommended food groups ranges from as low as 9.3 per cent in Kiribati to 54.7 per cent in Fiji,” the statement said.

UNICEF Pacific representative Jonathan Veitch said young children around the Pacific region were deprived of the diets they needed at the time in their life when it mattered most.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate the difficulties that families face in feeding their young children, it is crucial that every possible action be taken to protect the diets of all children,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Bureau of Statistics’ 2019-2020 Household Income and Expenditure Survey had also reported that some Fijian families were eating only two meals a day simply because they did not have enough money.

The report said two per cent of respondents interviewed under “consensual deprivation” to show what an adult or child would forego if faced with insufficient income.

Not replacing worn out furniture and not repairing damaged goods topped the list when it came to saving money,

Thirty-four per cent of respondents said they would not replace worn out furniture or repair damaged goods if they did not have money.

The HIES report also said 27 per cent said they would stop giving out gifts while 21 per cent said they would stop getting together with family and friends because of financial constraints.

Of those surveyed, 19 per cent said they would not buy a good pair of fitting shoes while 18 per cent responded by saying they would stop engaging in social and traditional engagements.

The report found 16 per cent of respondents said if they did not have the money, they would not buy clothes for special occasions, nor would they celebrate special occasions, while nine percent said they would stop buying all prescribed medicines.

“The views of the public are included in the measurement of deprivation and unacceptably low living standards and Fijians’ choices about how they wish to live are separated from the constraints on their lives resulting from too little income.”

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