A guest blog, written by Ben Bunting. BA(Hons), PGCert – Exercise and Nutrition.
What are the Nutritional Needs of a Child?
As an adult providing healthy nutrition for our children should be a high priority, but it is easy to succumb to convenience and bold advertising.
Nutrition for Children
Promoting healthy eating is one of the most important things we can do for our children. Good nutrition is essential for their growth and development.
Children’s nutritional needs change as they grow from babies to toddlers to older kids. A healthy diet full of nutritionally dense food is a powerful instrument for fighting disease. What children eat affects their health and their ability to learn and grow at school and at home. There are three major areas where food has an impact on a child: physical development, brain development, and emotional development.
Childhood obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, according to statistics from the World Health Organization, and childhood obesity is now a major problem in the United Kingdom. It is estimated that around 30% of children from the ages of 2 to 15 are obese in England. The rates of childhood obesity are higher for children living in disadvantaged areas and children from lower-income households.
What Causes Obesity?
According to a report published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children are consuming large amounts of snacks and foods that lack nutrients but are high in calories which are linked to obesity. This is partly because many of these snacks and high sugar cereals are advertised in such a way that they look appealing to children. Fortunately, the UK government has stepped in to impose a ban on junk food adverts aired on TV before 9pm.
The lack of nutritional value in these unhealthy foods is leading to a higher risk for obesity and chronic diseases. Food insecurity has also been linked to an increased risk for food-related illnesses and eating disorders among children. This is the result of eating more fatty foods, such as processed snacks, fast food, crisps, sports drinks, and sweets.
How many calories does a child need?
The average calories needed by a child per day depends on their age, gender, and activity level.
The average youth needs to consume 2000-2200 calories per day.
A person who is inactive and three years old should consume 800-1000 calories per day.
An active male between 12 and 18 years of age should consume around 2400-2800 calories per day.
A child’s nutritional needs are different from an adult’s – they need more essential vitamins and minerals.
Children under five years old need a balanced diet, but this is not as hard to achieve as it sounds. Many foods can provide all the required nutrients in a single meal, such as rice, lentils, and eggs.
The six essential nutrients are protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. The article provides an insight into what those essential nutrients do in the body. They enable children to grow and build muscles stronger so that they can play more games of their choice. They also provide a healthy mind to think more analytically and solve problems because of the necessary balance of these essential nutrients in their diet.
Children who are malnourished from childhood can experience various health problems, such as anaemia, stunted growth, and cognitive problems.
This is a problem that occurs not only in developing countries but also in developed ones. In Europe, for instance, it is estimated that up to 20% of children suffer from some sort of vitamin or mineral deficiency. Therefore, many parents seek supplements for their children. For instance, Public Health England recommends that people take vitamin D supplements, especially during the winter months because levels of sunlight are low and vitamin D isn’t found in abundance amongst food sources.
However, this can be a risky endeavour if the parents are not educated on what they should be buying and how much it should be taking. This is where a developmental paediatrician comes in
handy because they have knowledge about which deficiencies are most prevalent and how to remedy them with the correct supplements or diet changes.
Some macronutrients are required more than others. The macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The food sources required in the largest amounts.
Carbohydrates provide the energy that the body needs to function properly. Protein provides the building blocks for muscles and tissue, as well as hormones and enzymes. Fats provide insulation around nerves and protect organs from damage.
There is a wide consensus about the macronutrients required for children. It is important to keep in mind that they are not the same as adults.
Adequate carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are essential for the normal growth and development of children. The energy from these macronutrients is converted into tissues, biosynthesis of proteins and other substances needed by the body.
The recommended macronutrient ratio for children up to 18 years of age is 55% calories from carbohydrates, 15% from proteins and 30% from fats.
While fats are often feared, it is essential that people of all ages include fat in their diet because it provides essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce itself, antioxidants and helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E.
Where to start?
Eating breakfast is important for humans because it provides the energy to start the day after a period of night-time fasting.
Eating breakfast is necessary for adults and children alike, breakfast is very rarely complicated, and can consist of simple cereal or toast, or even some fruit and yogurt.
A healthy breakfast is a key component of a healthy lifestyle, and children should be encouraged to eat breakfast for this reason. Studies have shown that children who eat a morning meal are more active and perform better in school than those who do not.
Furthermore, a growing child needs to eat a substantial lunch-time meal to sustain their everyday activities.
Some good lunch choices for growing children are peanut butter sandwiches, milk, eggs, yogurt (with calcium added), cheese slices, cottage cheese (with calcium added), soy yogurt (with calcium added), hummus pita wrap (chickpeas and tahini in a whole wheat pita pocket).
Research has also discovered that consistent eating patterns, with foods eaten at home and not skipping meals has a positive relationship with healthy lifestyle and lower risk of obesity.
Collective meals times allow families to sit down together and chat. These family dinners help develop empathy, emotional intelligence, and social skills in children.
The NHS encourages parents to try and make sure that they schedule a regular mealtime for their family as it can be beneficial for their child’s development.
It can be confusing and tiring constantly looking for healthy dinner options for children. The children will often have different preferences than adults and will refuse to eat the same foods. Here are a few suggestions that might be eaten without complaint:
Cereal with almond milk or soy milk.
Apple slices with peanut butter or almond butter.
Greek yogurt with honey or maple syrup and fruit.
Baked sweet potato fries topped with avocado, black pepper, salt and hot sauce.
Banana toast: sliced banana on whole wheat bread, drizzled in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.
Chicken lettuce wraps: cooked shredded chicken mixed with chopped vegetables, seasoned rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and chopped cilantro wrapped in a large lettuce leaf.
The evening meal can be a family’s last chance to come together to enjoy one another’s company. Planning a healthy and nutritious evening meal for children may be challenging, let alone coming up with an enjoyable dish that doesn’t take too much time or effort.
The following are some ideas for healthy evening meals for children:
Grilled cheese sandwich
Baked potatoes with vegetables
Soup with whole-wheat crackers and fresh fruit
Scrambled eggs with whole-wheat toast and green beans
Being a parent is a difficult job. What with the endless decisions and responsibilities, it sometimes feels like there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. One of the things that all parents must deal with is feeding their children proper snacks. Children are notorious for being picky eaters, so it can be difficult finding something nutritious that they will eat rather than reaching for chocolate and crisps.
This section will provide parents with healthy snack ideas to feed their children that they will enjoy. Look at the following ideas for then they return home from school and need something to tide them over until dinner time arrives:
Toast with spreads
Cold cuts of meat
Cold vegetables such as cucumbers and carrots
As we know it is important to provide kids with nutritious and healthy foods, likewise, we need to avoid letting them eat too much of the unhealthy options. Some of the foods that children should avoid are:
High-fat dairy products, which can increase the risk of diabetes.
Processed foods, which often have added sugar, salt and saturated fat.
Drinks containing high amounts of sugar or caffeine.
Children should be drinking at least one litre of fluids every day. The British Nutrition Foundation recommends water and milk as the preferred options. Milk contains vitamins, minerals and electrolytes so are perfect to drink after sport and exercise.
Natural fruit juices can also be consumed in moderation; however, they are acidic and can promote tooth erosion so be sure to promote good dental hygiene with regular brushing.
Sugar-free fruit squashes are an alternative option for those who are fussy about plain milk or water. Alternatively, there are sugar-free flavourings that can be added to milk to make it more palatable for children. Don’t forget that fortified and unsweetened non-dairy milks are also available.
Trying to feed a family can be hard, and it can be confusing trying to establish what is healthy or not when navigating a supermarket. However, children need the adequate nutrition to perform well at school and develop into an adult.
Thankfully, many simple foods are available that can sustain a young person’s requirements, and they aren’t necessarily expensive. Eggs, milk, oats, bread, fruits, and vegetable