Millions of South African children are consuming too little of what they need or too much of what they don’t need resulting in undernutrition or obesity. Compounding this problem is the high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) which now accounts for around 6% of the recommended daily intake of energy and macronutrients for South African children.
Renowned South African dietician, Mbali Mapholi, is passionate about promoting simple and affordable nutritional options to promote wellbeing for people at all stages of life. As part of her research to address the current nutritional challenges experienced countrywide, Mapholi has compiled a document entitled ‘Children are the Future’ which highlights the many nutritional benefits of Rooibos tea for children, when consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
“Rooibos tea has always enjoyed wider popularity than other teas because of accessibility, however it is only now when we are starting to see a promising shift with Rooibos consumed specifically as a healthier alternative to sugar sweetened beverages,” explained Mapholi. “Rooibos tea is a safe drink, with no negative effects, and it is a great drink to help control the high intake of SSB which is currently a problem in South Africa and associated with childhood obesity.”
According to the South Africa Demographic and Health Survey 2016, the South African adolescent obesity rate is close to 30% which is higher than global obesity rate for this group. There is also a presence of hidden hunger which is defined as micronutrient deficiencies, a condition suffered by many South African children.
By introducing Rooibos tea into a child’s daily diet, parents are not only meeting the necessary fluid intake and cutting out the harmful high-sugar drink options, but they are also ensuring their children enjoy the many benefits of this healthy beverage.
Mapholi explained that, while more studies are needed in relation to the health benefits of Rooibos tea, the antioxidants within the plant compounds are believed to be beneficial to all ages. Some of the positive health effects associated with the tea include improved heart health, as well as a reduced chance of cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Additionally, Rooibos tea has been linked to soothing stomach pains, colic and addressing allergies.
“Rooibos tea is a very affordable drink in South Africa which is important considering that over half of South African children live below poverty line,” explained Mapholi. “Rooibos tea is also very versatile and allows caregivers to enrich it and serve it anyway preferred (hot or cold). On a hot summer’s day, Rooibos tea could be transformed into refreshing iced tea and help children meet their fluid intake for the day. On a cold day, Rooibos tea could be taken hot with milk or with lemon and ginger.”
Tea4Kidz is Laager’s range of Rooibos tea available in a range of six delicious flavours. Developed specifically for the younger palate, Tea4Kidz provides parents with a healthy drink option to ensure adequate hydration throughout the year.
Tea4Kidz Marketing Manager, Candice Sessions, said insights shared by Mapholi were hugely beneficial for the health and wellbeing of the South African youth: “For centuries, South Africans have been benefitting from Rooibos tea and we are encouraging the next generation to continue this healthy tradition. Childhood nutrition is one of the most important elements contributing to behaviour, laying the foundation for future wellbeing, and it’s vital we are giving children the best possible start.”
Parents looking for delicious recipes and engaging activities for youngsters during the nationwide lockdown, can check out www.more4momz.com