nutrition during childhood and adolescence is essential for growth and
development, health and well-being, and the prevention of some chronic
diseases. Yet many children's diets fall considerably short of recommended
dietary standards. Furthermore, poor diet and physical inactivity, resulting
in an energy imbalance. The major nutrition issues among children are
nutrient deficiency diseases, on one hand whereas in other cases certain
concerns like obesity, which is due to overconsumption, poor dietary
quality, and food choices.
OF HEALTHFUL DIETARY BEHAVIORS IN SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN
During childhood and adolescence, good nutrition and dietary behaviors are important to achieve full growth potential and
appropriate body composition, to promote health and well-being, and
to reduce the risk of chronic diseases in adulthood. Children require
sufficient energy, protein, and other nutrients for growth as well
as maintenance of body functions. Nutrient needs tend to parallel
rates of growth. Growth continues at a steady rate during childhood,
then accelerates during adolescence, creating increases in nutrient
needs to support the rapid growth rate and increase in lean body mass
and body size. During puberty, adolescents achieve the final 15 to
20 percent of stature, gain 50 percent of adult body weight, and accumulate
up to 40 percent of skeletal mass. Inadequate intakes of energy, protein,
or certain micronutrients will be reflected in slow growth rates,
inadequate bone mass, and low body reserves of micronutrients.
In addition to the impact on growth and development, children's diets
are important to ensure overall health and well-being. Dietary practices
of children and adolescents affect their risk for a number of health
problems, including obesity, iron deficiency, and dental caries. Inadequate
nutrition also lowers resistance to infectious disease, and may adversely
affect the ability to function at peak mental and physical ability.
There is concern about long-term health as certain dietary patterns,
developed in childhood and carried into adulthood, result in an increased
risk for chronic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis,
and some types of cancer later in life. Some of the physiological
processes that lead to diet-related chronic diseases have their onset
during childhood. For example, studies indicate that the process of
atherosclerosis begins in childhood.
Dietary patterns are influenced by behavioral choices and environmental
factors. It may be easier to change children's health behavior than
adults' behavior. Childhood offers the opportunity to provide the
solid foundation needed for healthful lifelong eating patterns.
discretionary energy provided as snacks for elementary school children
would range between 124 and 169 calories; for middle school children,
between 163 and 236 calories, and for high school students, between
210 and 294 calories.