Child And Adolescent Nutrition

Child And Adolescent Nutrition

Have you ever wondered that Nutrition is so important right from the childhood??

It is never too late to understand this but it is also vital to start eating healthy as early as you can. Good nutrition in early years play an important role to help children and adolescents in achieving good health thus avoiding various health-risk factors in later years. Nutritional demands differ with differing stages of life cycle. So, the reason is obvious. To help a child develop their optimal potentials, so to grow as a healthy individual, Optimum Nutrition is crucial at a young age.

NUTRITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS IN SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN : How many calories does a child needs to consume?? Or rather…. What type of calories does a child requires?

Till the age of 4 years, the calorie requirement is as per the body weight. From the age of 5 years till adolescence, there is a slow & steady growth so the actual amount of energy (calories) required goes on increasing. As far as the quality of the calories is concerned, there are lot many nutrients a child requires and it differs from child to child as not two individual bodies are similar. A single food cannot provide all the nutrients he or she needs, so make sure that your child consumes a variety of food on daily basis. Dietary intakes of some children may be less than the recommended intake for iron, calcium, vitamins specially vitamin A, D and C. In most cases deficiencies are unlikely, provided fruits and vegetables are eaten. However, depending upon the nutrient deficiencies and some of the food allergies a child may face, the diet pattern needs to be planned. Making the right dietary intake and lifestyle choices right at this age will help young people develop good eating habits, that will be followed by them throughout their lives.

NUTRITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR ADOLESCENTS : This is an age which will decide most common metabolic disorders in later years…..

The nutritional requirements in adolescents varies which is decided as per the sudden increase of growth at the onset of puberty. The peak of growth is generally between 11 and 15 years for girls and 13 and 16 years for boys. Again, Nutritional demands cannot be judged just by knowing the age of the person. Young people needs to be counselled so to make them aware of some of the basic nutrients they need. In this period of life, several nutrients are at greater deficiency risk including Iron and Calcium. For example, Anaemia is the most common abnormality seen in most of the adolescents due to Iron deficiency in their bodies. Though the Iron requirements for boys and girls differ as once the adolescence starts, the boy undergoes rapid muscle growth and increase in their weights. The Iron needs increases due to weight gain and the beginning of menstruation for girls as well. All these factors need to be considered while deciding Iron demands for this age group. Also, one of the most common reason for Iron deficiency is its absorption. So, proper diets have to be planned to maintain the nutrient balance in the body.

The Calcium demands also increases in adolescents as it maintains the growth of the bones. All the calcium for the skeletal growth must be derived from the diet. The largest gains are made in early adolescence, between about 10-14 years in girls and 12-16 years in boys. The retention of the calcium also becomes crucial. It ensures the reduction of the high risk of Osteoporosis in later years. However, physical activity is essential along with proper nutrition, which helps to build and retain bone density within the body. The lack of physical activity results in the beginning of Obesity in most of the adolescents.

ENERGY DEMANDS : Normally, children and adolescents meet their energy needs by means of their appetites. However, stress and emotional imbalance can seriously affect the energy balance in adolescents, resulting in the consumption of too little or too much food. Infections which relate to skin problems (acne) can result in alterations of appetite. Emotional stress often related with slimming trends, leads to eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa. To avoid all these problems, it is better to take that little effort in streamlining the eating pattern of young children.

It goes without saying that proper Nutrition and Physical activity in the early years are important to avoid the health-risk diseases like Obesity, Anaemia, Osteoporosis, Hypertension, Diabetes, Bowel problems and even Cancer in the later years of life. So, why wait for any health problem to occur?? Prevention is always better than Cure.

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