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A hectic lifestyle experienced by most parents leaves them with little time to cook nutritious meals, with dire consequences for their children.
Nutritionist Mali Ramara warns that fast foods affect little bodies negatively.
"If you feed children rocket fuel, that is a diet high in sugar and caffeine, their behaviour will be out of control. Sugar is refined carbohydrates and not good for anyone. Kids can become uncontrollable after a sugar feast."
Ramara says refined carbohydrates such as biscuits, white bread, sweets, chocolate and fizzy drinks send children's blood-glucose levels soaring, only to crash soon afterwards.
"Their blood glucose is a permanent roller-coaster ride and the level of activity and concentration declines.
"According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, good nutrition is linked to learning readiness and academic achievement as well as decreased emotional problems. Healthy eating has demonstrated an improvement in school results and class participation," she says.
l Symptoms suffered by children fed junk food
Difficulty in concentration, fatigue, mood swings, tendency to depression, anxiety and irritability, aggressive outburst or crying spells, forgetfulness and confusion.
l What parents can do
Feed children food with fibre, protein, Vitamins E and C, calcium, magnesium, potassium and essential fat. Cut out coffee, tea and fizzy drinks.
l How to start
Ensure a healthy balanced breakfast each day. Prepare three meals with healthy snacks in between. Prepare a healthy lunch box with a fruit. Do not give kids money for sweets.
l What should be in the lunch box
Fruit, nuts, carrots, cucumber, celery, broccoli, cheese, milk or yoghurt, lean meat, hard-boiled egg, sardines, fish, whole-grain or seed-load bread, rolls, and a bottle of