Greek Health Ministry alarmed over quality of food at nurseries, kindergartens

ATHENS (AA): Almost 50% of nursery schools and kindergartens offer inappropriate foods once or twice a week, said an assessment by the Greek Health Ministry’s Directorate of Public and Environmental Health made public on Friday.

The directorate sounded the alarm over the food provided to infants and young children after a study of the weekly food menus offered in 2021 in 50 regional units to over 15,700 children, the study said.

The study covered both public and private nursery schools and kindergartens.

The report showed that 13.5% of the childcare centers did not offer the appropriate amount of vegetables, while 35.3% did not offer cereals or whole meal products on a daily basis.

Surprisingly, almost half of them offered foods with added sugars, cookies, puddings, sweetened bread, and yogurt desserts and fruit compotes once or twice a week, despite official recommendations to avoid foods with high added sugars.

Reports have shown that Greek childhood obesity is one of the highest in Europe, with studies showing the Greek child obesity risk score at 8/11.

Giannis Marios, a professor of nutrition at Harokopeio University in Athens, said 88% of parents of overweight and obese children in Greece consider their children’s weight to be normal, while 20% of parents with children of a healthy size believe that their children are actually underweight and actively encourage them to eat more.