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Over 1.2 million children in Sri Lanka attend school without breakfast

Publication Date : 04-06-2014


Senior lecturer in paediatrics at the faculty of mdicine, Colombo University, Dr. Pujitha Wickremasinghe yesterday revealed that out of four million schoolchildren in Sri Lanka about 30 per cent attended schools without having breakfast.

Although school canteen owners had been instructed to implement school canteen policy and help inculcate healthy eating habits among students, most of them were found to be selling food with very high levels of sugar, oil and salt, Dr.Wickremasinghe said at a media conference on nutrition of schoolchildren at the health education bureau.

Dr. Wickremasinghe pointed out that the time had come to save the student population from serious illnesses as most parents encouraged them to consume junk food for convenience. Anaemia, wasting, stunting and obesity were prevalent among children, the senior lecturer said.

Consultant community physician Dr. Ayesha Lokubalasooriya said that the plight of the student population in Sri Lanka was a matter of great concern. Lack of nutrition caused impaired physical growth, anaemia, poor educational performance, poor memory, low IQ, delayed puberty and eating disorders and obesity, she stressed.

Health ministry nutrition coordination unit director Dr Shanthi Gunawardena said that a study conducted by the Medical Research Institute (MRI) had revealed that around 15 per cent of children and infants between six and 11 months were suffering from micro-nutrient deficiencies. Even children at pre-school ages (20 per cent) were suffering from anaemia, she said. About 22.2 per cent non-pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 19 and 16.7 per cent of pregnant mothers were suffering from anaemia, she said.



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