Index of key terms and concepts

Index of key terms and concepts

Here you will find the definitions of all terms defined in the manual

AI: Adequate Intakes of nutrients.

Anorexia: eating disorder characterised by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight.

Atherogenic effect: atherogenic action that takes part in the formation of atherosclerotic plaque

Bioactive compounds: substances contained in certain food which, according to scientific research, have positive effects on our health.

Binge eating: consumption of large quantities of food in a short period of time, typically as part of an eating disorder.

Body Mass Index (BMI): approximate measure to establish the nutritional status of an individual. It is the person’s weight divided by the square of his or her height (kg/m2).

Bulimia: eating disorder described by the ingestion of an abnormally large amount of food in a short period of time, followed by an attempt to avoid gaining weight by purging what was consumed.

Bullying: indicates a set of peer-to-peer behaviours within a group that relate to repeated and sustained psychological or physical oppression by one person who feels more powerful than another, perceived for some reason as weaker.

Centile lines: the centile lines on the chart show the expected range of heights, weights and BMI; each describes the number of individuals expected to be below that line, e.g. 15% below the 15th, 97% below the 97th.

Cholesterol: a substance produced by all cells, especially in the liver, similar to fat, but which does not provide energy.

Cooking methods: ways to make food more tender and/or digestible, such as boiling, frying, steaming, stir-frying.

Different: from Lat. diversus, which actually means facing in another direction, facing elsewhere, opposite [indicating alienation]. The term is used to describe an individual, not because he differs from another, but because he has “special characteristics” that make him different from the typical group member.

Disaccharides: carbohydrates composed of 2 molecules of simple sugars (monosaccharides) linked to each other. Examples include sucrose, maltose and lactose.

Discrimination: treatment, consideration and/or discrimination against an individual based on a particular social group, class or category to which the person is perceived as belonging rather than based on their individual attributes. This includes the negative social treatment of an individual or a group, based on their actual or perceived membership within a given social category.

DRI: Dietary Reference Intakes of nutrients.

EAA: Essential Amino Acids. They need to be provided by food as our body cannot synthesise them.

EFA: Essential Fatty Acids, which needs to be provided by food as our body cannot synthesise them.

Empty calories contained in certain types of food that provide calories but are low in nutrients, such as sweets and fast food.

Energy balance: is achieved when input (i.e. Dietary Energy Intake) is equal to output (i.e. Total Energy Expenditure), in addition to the energy cost of growth during childhood and adolescence. It doesn’t need to be reached day to-day, but it is important to be maintained over a prolonged period.

Energy expenditure: energy used to maintain bodily functions, physical activity and growth during childhood and adolescence.

Energy requirement: food energy required to replace the energy used to maintain bodily functions, body composition, an adequate level of physical activity and growth during childhood and adolescence.

Essential nutrients: nutrients which our body cannot produce by itself and therefore need to be obtained from food.

Exercise: subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and that favours physical fitness maintenance or development.

Fat: common name of lipids that are esters of glycerol and fatty acids, mainly triacylglycerols.

Food additives: substances added to food to preserve or improve the taste, texture, freshness, or look of food products such as flavouring agents, food colourings or sweeteners.

Food labels: panels found on a package of food, which contain a variety of information about the nutritional value of a food product. There are many pieces of information on most food labels, such as the serving size, calories content, grams of fat, nutrients and a list of ingredients. Food labels contain important information about the food origin, its safety, allergy risks and its nutritional value.

Food packaging: packaging provides protection and special features to keep food in the state in which it is intended to be consumed. It may include nutritional information as well as visual content (advertisement, serving suggestions, etc.).

Free sugars: monosaccharides (e.g. glucose or fructose) and disaccharides (e.g. sucrose or table sugar) that are either added to food products and drinks or naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and concentrates.

Healthy eating choices: food choices which are good for your health, such as vegetables, whole cereals, nuts, legumes, fruits.

Heme-iron: type of iron contained in animal products.

Intrinsic (natural) sugars: monosaccharides or disaccharides that are naturally present in fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

Mediterranean diet: a particular type of diet inspired from the eating habits in the Mediterranean area.

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs): chronic diseases which are the result of a combination of environmental, genetic, physiological and behavioural factors and which can have long term effects.

Nutrients: substances found in food and drinks which are used by the body for growth, reproduction and good health. There are two categories of nutrients: Macronutrients, which include proteins, carbohydrates, fats and fatty acids, and Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, which are essential to body processes.

Nutritional labels: tables listing nutrient amounts for 100g or serving which can be found in food packaging.

Nutritionally well-balanced meals: combinations of food which can provide macro and micronutrients, as well as fibres and protective substances.

Omega fats: named by numbers: 9, 6 and 3; omega-9 is present in olive oil, omega-6 is present in animal products, soy and nuts, and omega-3 can be found in seeds (chia, flaxseeds), walnuts, algae and fish.

Physical activity: any body movement generated by the contraction of your muscles that raises your energy expenditure above your resting one. It is characterised by its modality, frequency, intensity, duration and context of practice. Physical activity is commonly confused with sport.

Physical inactivity: qualify individuals who do not reach age-specific physical activity guidelines. It is not a synonym of sedentary behaviours.

Physical fitness: result or prerequisite of physical activity. In itself, the term physical fitness combines “a set of attributes that we have or achieve to complete our daily activities” and “is the ability to perform muscular work.”

Phytochemicals: substances which are present in vegetables only and provide health benefits according to scientific researches.

Prejudice: preconception and prior judgment. False opinion prior to judging before knowing the facts. Prejudice is a preconceived opinion of a fact or of a person perceived on the basis of common voices and opinions that are not true and proven.

Preventive tool: a food choice which can help your body to stay healthy.

RDA: Recommended Dietary Allowances of nutrients.

Saccharides: carbohydrate polymers which can go from one molecule to thousands joined by covalent bonds to form simple and complex carbohydrates.

Saturated fats: possess carbon atoms that form the fatty acid chain; they are connected by single bonds and each carbon has two hydrogen atoms attached.

Sedentary behaviours: any waking behaviours characterised by a very low energy expenditure while in a sitting, reclining or lying posture. Screen time and sitting time are two instances of sedentary behaviours, as well as motorised transportations (buses, train, car etc.) or staying seated at school.

Sport: part of the physical activity spectrum and corresponds to any institutionalised and organised practice, based on specific competition rules. Beyond sport, a higher or regular amount of physical activity participation is required for our health.

Stereotype: in psychology, a preformed, generalised and simplistic opinion, which is not based on a personal assessment of individual cases but is mechanically repeated, about people or events and situations: to judge, stereotype, individual stereotyping, if it affects individuals, social stereotyping, if it affects social groups.

Stigma: in social psychology, attribution of a negative quality to a person or group of people, especially with regard to their social status and reputation: an individual, a group stigmatised for mental/physical racial, ethnic, religious reasons.

TFA: Trans Fatty Acids, artificially made via total or partial hydrogenation of fats. They are mainly found in processed, fried, industrially prepared and fast foods.

Trans fats: vegetable oils that have been hardened with hydrogen.

Unsaturated fats: fatty acids containing double bonds between carbon atoms in the hydrocarbon chain are divided into monounsaturated fatty acids (one double bond) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (multiple double bonds).

WHO Growth charts: international standards that show how healthy children and adolescents should grow. These standards were developed using data collected in the WHO (World Health Organisation) Multicentre Growth Reference Study and other curves obtained in some countries. The charts indicate a subject’s size compared with age-mates of the same gender who have shown normal growth. Measuring individual growth and plotting on growth charts is quick and easy. Growth charts are not a diagnostic tool, but rather contribute to forming an overall clinical impression of the subject being measured.

WHO – World Health Organisation: WHO is the directing and coordinating authority on international public health within the United Nations system. WHO was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO currently has 194 Member States. Its current priorities include communicable diseases (in particular HIV/AIDS, Ebola, malaria and tuberculosis); prevention and control of the non-communicable diseases; nutrition, food security and healthy eating; substance abuse; and driving the development of reporting, publications, and networking.

Pubertal growth spurt: intense increase in the rate of growth in height and weight. This growth practically occurs in all of the long bones and most other skeletal elements. During this period, significant changes in appearance, needs, behaviour and interests are observed. The pubertal growth spurt begins on average at 10-12 years for girls, and 13-15 for boys, however there is considerable variation between individuals and populations.