Smart Start is a nutrition education program promoting healthy lifestyle and targeting schoolchildren in Qatar.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted dietary and lifestyle habits of many families. The poor diet quality and sedentary lifestyle acquired may affect the immune system and the disease susceptibility. It is time to charge up kid’s immune system after returning to school in person. Therefore, the program’s purpose was to emphasize the importance of Kids nutrition, introduce the parents to the importance of applying healthy eating habits and active lifestyle among children daily routine and strategies to boost their immunity during the pandemic. The webinar targeted parents, schoolteachers and administrators in several schools in Qatar. In addition, the kids enjoyed numerous activities and watched an animated video about food groups and healthy eating habits with their schoolteachers.

Many school staff, parents and children from different schools attended the webinar. The symposium discussed several main areas: foods that support the immune system and the importance of adopting a healthy and active lifestyle to strengthen the immune system. Many factors can weaken the immune system such as an incomplete diet, an unorganized sleep pattern, exposure to pollution, and a lack of fresh air or sunlight. The immune system protects the human body from pathogenic microbes such as bacteria and viruses. Learning healthy eating habits, consuming the correct diet and the development of a strong immune system that begins at a young age is crucial to deter health risks related to various diseases and their causes, including viruses.

Lecturers and Teaching Assistants at the Department of Human Nutrition emphasized the importance of including all food groups in the meal to boost immunity. The webinar provided many tips to schedule meals, prepare lunch boxes, engage daily fun activities and offered specialized strategies designed to deal with picky eaters. Moreover, fun activities for kids were included in the program such as my plate activities, matching and guessing games and solving a maze.

Ms. Riyam Chaar, Academic controller of Global Academy International school, stated:  “We hold on to the belief that engaging our students in nutrition community activities prepares them to become healthy eaters and healthier adults. The kids enjoyed the activities with their schoolteachers, learned about different food groups and the importance of eating healthy and being active”.


Source: Qatar University