Online nutrition courses are important for encouraging healthy eating in the younger population, particularly because over 28 per cent of children and adolescents in Australia were considered overweight or obese in 2019. It’s a disturbing statistic and one that can have serious and long-term implications for their future health and wellbeing.
Learning about children’s nutrition, and developing strategies for healthy eating early can help reduce the risks of social and emotional problems, and diseases in later life like obesity, Type-2 diabetes, heart disease and even some types of cancer.
Our Certificate of Child Nutrition is focused on a holistic approach, where you’ll learn about optimal diets and the healthy eating patterns and nutritional requirements suited to infants right through to adolescents.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking online nutrition courses include:
- Learning about the scope, nature and history of nutrition
- Exploring the effect of culture and family background on nutrition
- Studying the importance of nutrition in early childhood
- Understanding the basic nutrients needed in a child’s diet
- Examining nutrition tips for children
- Gaining insights into nutrition for pre-pregnancy
- Learning about the pre-conception diet – maternal weight and maternal nutrient status
- Exploring paternal health and nutrition
- Studying the effect of nutrition of parents at conception
- Examining how to make diet changes pre-conception
- Gaining insights into nutrition in pregnancy
- Learning about early pregnancy and morning sickness
- Gaining tips on helping with pregnancy nausea
- Exploring nutrition through pregnancy in terms of a recommended dietary intake (RDI)
- Studying caloric and fluid intake through pregnancy
- Understanding the calorie demands of a pregnant woman
- Gaining insights into foods to avoid while pregnant
- Learning about hypervitaminosis
- Exploring pregnancy complications that relate to nutrition
- Studying nutrition in infants
- Gaining an understanding of breastfeeding
- Examining formula feeding
- Gaining insights into feeding for the first six months
- Learning about starting infants on solid foods
- Exploring the adequate Vitamin C and iron intake for infants in the first year
- Studying how to progress infants on solid foods – protein, dairy and finger foods etc.
- Gaining an understanding of nutrition for toddlers
- Examining snack packs, small meals and meal alternatives
- Gaining insights into allergens
- Exploring weaning
- Studying nutrition in childhood
- Understanding caloric, mineral and vitamin intake
- Learning how to encourage good eating habits
- Gaining insights into breakfast, packed lunches and morning and afternoon snacks
- Learning about childhood eating habits
- Studying puberty
- Gaining an understanding of nutritional concerns
- Examining the scope and nature of nutritional health for children
- Gaining insights into healthy snacks and re-hydration
- Learning about underweight children and malnutrition
- Exploring anaemia/iron deficiency
- Studying dental care in children
- Understanding eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating
- Examining fast food and junk food
- Gaining insights into influencing children’s eating
- Learning how to teach healthy eating to children
- Exploring healthy snack ideas
- Studying childhood food sensitivities
- Understanding food intolerances and allergies
- Exploring the relevant research
- Studying food and autism in children
- Understanding food and child behaviour problems
- Examining sensitivity diagnosis including diet and skin and blood tests
- Gaining insights into child nutrition issues
- Learning about the causes of childhood obesity including what’s unhealthy
- Exploring the guidelines for child weight loss
- Studying diet plans and special nutritional needs
- Gaining an understanding of childhood diabetes
- Examining vegetarian and vegan diets
- Learning about normal eating habits for children
Childhood Obesity in Australia
Obesity can take its toll on both physical and mental health, including increasing the chance of children developing a range of other medical conditions. Because obese children also tend to be obese in later life, it’s vital that health professionals – including those who have undertaken online nutrition courses – are equipped with the skills to manage children’s healthy eating habits as early as possible.
What Is Childhood Obesity?
The term basically refers to children having too much body fat or an abnormal amount of body fat. It occurs when the energy children get from what they consume is greater than the energy they output via growing and physical activities – the excess energy is then stored as fat.
Why Is Healthy Weight Important?
Maintaining a healthy weight is important to children’s health – both now and in the future – as it can reduce their chances of:
- being obese or overweight as an adult
- developing serious health problems during childhood, including type-2 diabetes, hip and joint problems and obstructive sleep apnoea
- suffering from social and emotional problems like depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, poor body image and teasing and bullying
- suffering physical health problems as adults, including type-2 diabetes, skin disorders, heart disease, infertility and some types of cancer.
What Factors Influence It?
Many factors can put children and adolescents at a higher risk of becoming overweight and obese, and they include:
#1 – Unhealthy Food And Drink Choices
Healthy nutritious foods include fruit and veggies, reduced-fat dairy products and protein-rich foods like fish, eggs, legumes and lean meat and chicken. Tap water and reduced-fat milk are the healthiest drinks for children. Children and adolescents need to eat different amounts of these foods at different ages, which is why health professionals should follow the recommended Australian dietary guidelines.
#2 – A Lack Of Physical Activity
Children need to be as physically active as possible as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. This includes walking and playing outdoors, as these activities can use up their excess energy and decrease their stress levels. Physical activity can also prevent health issues and disease, and give children the chance to socialise with other children.
#3 – The Influence Of Family Role Models
Children are more likely to be active and make healthy food choices if they see their parents and other influencers doing the same. Young children, in particular, do as adults do, so modelling healthy eating and regular exercise can have a huge impact.
#4 – Family History And Medical Factors
Lifestyle factors can affect children’s health, but so can things like our genes. Some children are at greater risk of obesity because their genes can make them gain weight more easily, or because they have existing health problems or take certain medications.
#5 – Other Factors
Busy family lifestyles, a lack of outdoor space and too much screen time can make it harder for children to be active, which makes it easier for them to overeat. Sleep problems are also a risk factor in terms of childhood obesity, so it’s important to promote regular and adequate sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle.
The Healthy Eating Pyramid
The Healthy Eating Pyramid was first introduced by Nutrition Australia in 1980. It was designed as a simple, conceptual model to encourage Australians to eat a varied and balanced diet in line with the current dietary guidelines. Since then, the Pyramid has continued to evolve, with the latest version being launched in 2015.
It’s a great visual guide for health professionals – including those who are undertaking online nutrition courses – that outlines the types and proportions of foods we should eat every day for good health.
The Healthy Eating Pyramid contains the five core food groups (plus healthy fats) and is based on their contribution to a balanced diet based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines from 2013. The layers represent the recommended food intake for 19 to 50-year-olds, however, the placement and proportions of each food group are generally applicable to everyone aged from one to 70. Australians should enjoy a variety of foods from each of the food groups every single day (something you’ll learn about very quickly when you study online nutrition courses!).
The foundation layers of the Pyramid include the three plant-based food groups – fruits, vegetables, and legumes and grains. They make up the largest portion because they should be 70% of our diet! These foods contain a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and they’re also our main source of fibre and carbohydrates. In terms of grains, whole grains (like brown rice, oats and wholegrain varieties of bread, pasta etc.) should be chosen over refined, highly processed options.
The middle layer includes things like milk, cheese, yoghurt and their alternatives, and poultry, lean meat, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes and eggs. The dairy category provides us with protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals, and it can also refer to non-dairy options like rice, soy or cereal milks. Reduced-fat options are also recommended in this group. The second category contains our main sources of protein, which provides nutrients like iron, zinc, iodine, healthy fats and B12 vitamins. Everyone should aim to have a variety of meat and non-meat options from this category.
The top layer refers to healthy fats, as opposed to saturated or trans fats. Small amounts of these are needed every day to support brain function and heart health. Unrefined polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can come from plant sources like nut, seed and extra virgin olive oils. Healthy fats are also found in other food groups like nuts, seeds, fish and avocadoes.
The Healthy Eating Pyramid also reminds us to limit our intake of sugar and salt, which is linked to an increased risk of some diseases. This means avoiding adding sugar or salt to food when we’re cooking or eating and consuming drinks and packaged foods that have sugar or salt added to their ingredients.
In terms of salt, we do need small amounts for good health, however, too much of it is linked to a risk of high blood pressure which can lead to kidney and heart disease.
In terms of sugars, most vegetables, fruits, legumes and unsweetened dairy foods contain small amounts of naturally occurring sugars which aren’t harmful. However, consuming a lot of added sugars can add extra kilojoules, lead to weight gain and increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
In terms of drinks, water is best! It keeps us hydrated and supports other essential functions in the body, so sugary options like soft drinks and sports and energy drinks should be avoided.
Little bodies need lots of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff. So if you’re keen to have a positive impact on the future health of our children, our Certificate of Child Nutrition is a fantastic place to start!