|The Indonesian Nutritionists and Food Expertise Association (Pergizi Pangan) has launched National Breakfast Week (Pesan) starting this Friday in a bid to raise awareness of the importance of children eating a good breakfast before going to school.
Pergizi Pangan chairman Hardinsyah, who is also Bogor Institute of Agriculture’s (IPB) professor of nutritional science, said that the Pesan campaign was aimed at making breakfast part of the daily routines of schoolchildren.
“Fifty percent of children in the country don’t regularly have their breakfast because they don’t have enough time to eat in the morning. They also need to leave home very early to avoid traffic jams as their classes mostly start at 7 a.m.,” Hardinsyah said on Thursday.
A survey conducted by the IPB found that more than 50 percent of children skip their breakfast every morning.
The survey, overseen by Hardinsyah, involved 2,000 children in several big cities like Jakarta and Bogor throughout 2011.
Pergizi Pangan is collaborating with consumer-goods producer PT Unilever Indonesia, local non-governmental organizations, 20 schools across Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi) and parent organizations to actively promote Pesan this year over the next 21 days.
The annual breakfast week is scheduled to be held between Feb. 14 and Feb. 20, with the following 14 days being filled with tutorials on preparing easy breakfast meals.
“Through this campaign, we are hoping that we can remind more children to eat their most important meal of the day and to persuade more parents to commit to providing breakfast for their children,” Hardinsyah said.
Pesan 2014 is the second such campaign to be held in the country.
According to the Health Ministry’s Health Basic Research (Riskesdas), of 35,000 elementary school children surveyed across Indonesia in 2010, 44.6 percent received only 15 percent of their recommended total daily energy intake at breakfast. The ideal figure is 30 percent.
Hardinsyah said that breakfast had to be nutritious containing enough carbohydrates, proteins, fat and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.
A proper breakfast for children could be as simple as a plate of fried rice with chopped carrots, cucumber and a fried egg or bread with butter, egg and sliced tomato.
“A nutritious breakfast helps children to be more focused on their studies at school, hence, improving their academic performance,” he said.
Soedjatmiko, a pediatrician from the University of Indonesia, urged fathers to help support their wives preparing breakfast for children on a daily basis.
He also said that Pesan wanted to make a nutritious breakfast a part of the daily lifestyle of every family.
Poverty is also a contributory factor in the lack of nutrition among the nation’s children.
Fifty percent of Indonesia’s population is still officially living below the poverty line or hovering around the poverty line, with a daily income of less than US$2 per day.