NUTRITION FOR CHILDREN​

Nutrition is a fundamental component in providing overall wellbeing and growth development especially in children (Health Canada, 1997). Inadequate nutrition can ultimately affect a child’s development in the long run (Health Canada, 1997). Poor eating habits in children eventually lead to chronic health problems later in life, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer (Health Canada, 1997). It is important to educate children on the benefits of nutritious eating (Health Canada, 1997). It is equally important to reinforce healthy eating habits in children (Health Canada, 1997).By educating children the benefits of a nutritious diet we can help them establish healthy eating patterns that will eventually follow them throughout the remainder of their lives (Health Canada, 1997). It is extremely important to educate children on good nutrition and also develop strategies to encourage healthy eating in children.

Kids_Nutrition.jpg
Children and Nutrition (2007).


How does family affect a child's nutrition?
Poor nutrition is a big concern in the United States for many low income families (Santock, 2007). Children dealing with this issue were considered to be more aggressive, hyperactive, and have excessive motor behaviours (Santock, 2007, p.23). The majority of children need to make a change to their diet, as it often contains too many high fat foods (Santock, 2007). Children that grow up with a healthy diet have lasting effects (Santock, 2007). One example being that their basal metabolism rate allows very minimal amount of energy to be used while they are in the resting state (Santock, 2007)

There are many different things that parents can do to promote healthy eating in their children's lives. Family meals are very beneficial to the health and wellness of a child (Gavin, 2009). Children find this daily habit comforting and studies have shown that they have higher chance of eating grains, vegetables, and fruits, and less likely to eat unhealthy foods (Gavin, 2009). Parents can "include low fat foods, milk, vegetables, eaten with family away from TV" (Santock, 2007). Adults can set a good example for their children by simply following their own rules, and eating healthy themselves (Gavin, 2009). Parents should not force their child to finish everything on their plate, as this teaches them to ignore their feelings of fullness (Gavin, 2009).


What does Canada's Food Guide recommend children eat? CANADA.jpg
Canada's food guide is a guide to healthy eating designed for all ages to choose food wisely (Clandinin, 2009). By consuming the right amount and type of food recommended in the food guide, children will be able to receive the nutrients that are needed to grow (Health Canada, 2008). The Canadian food guide resource is also useful for health professionals and educators who work with children (Health Canada, 2007). Below is a chart which displays recomended daily servings for children ages 2 to 12 years.

Food Group
Child’s Age
# of Servings
Vegetables and Fruits
2-3 years
4

4-8 years
5

9-12 years
6
Grain Product
2-3 years
3

4-8 years
4

9-13 years
6
Milk and Alternatives
2-3 years
2

4-8 years
2

9-13 years
3-4
Meat and Alternatives
2-3 years
1

4-8 years
1

9-13 years
1-2
(Ministry of Health, 2008)














How to educate children on healthy eating
Educating children on healthy eating is an important part of health promotion due to the increase in childhood obesity. The world health organization (WHO, 1997) indicates that the prevalence of childhood obesity is increasing throughout the world. For children, the right balance of foods will give them all the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. It also helps to educate them about healthy eating and can reduce the risk of serious diseases later in life. Therefore it is important to focus on educating children on healthy eating. Prevention of obesity is an increasingly important aspect of Health Promotion (Sahota et al., 2001).

Here are five of the best strategies to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits for childrens (Gavin, 2009):

1. Have regular family meals, allows parents to monitor childrens behaviour, suggest ways of dealing with problems (Benton, 2008).
2. Serve a variety of healthy foods and snacks.
3. Be a role model by eating healthy yourself, this will encourage children to eat more healthy food.
4. Avoid battles over food.
5. Involve kids in the process.



For more information on healthy eating visit Health Canada's webpage for Canada's food guide: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/order-commander/index-eng.php


References

Canada's Food Guide. (2009). [Online photograph]. Retrieved December 8, 2009, from http://www.putporkonyourfork.com/media/user/health_and_nutrition/canada_food_guide_2.jpg

Children and Nutrition. (2007). [Online photograph]. Retrieved December 7, 2009, from http://www.candy.net.au/consumer-information.asp?pgID=174


Clandinin, M. T. (2009). Canada's Food Guide. Retrieved from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=a1ARTA0001252

Gavin, M. (2009). Healthy Eating. Kids Health from Nemours. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_fit/nutrition/habits.html

Health Canada (2007). Food and Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/child-enfant/index-eng.php

Health Canada (2008). Food and Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/choose-choix/advice-conseil/child-enfant-eng.php

Health Canada. (1997). Food For Thought: Schools and Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/child-enfant/food_thought_schools-reflection_aliments_ecole-eng.php

Ministry of Health (2008). Mealtime Mentoring. Retrieved from http://www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/your_health/documents/CFG-afocusonchildren.pdf

Sahota,P., Rudolf, M.C.J., Dixey,R., Hill,A.J., Barth, J.H., & Cade, J.(2001). Evaluation of implementation and effect of primary school based intervention to reduce risk factors for obesity. British Medical Journal, 323 (3), 1026-1032.

Santrock, J. (2007). A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. Retrieved from http://iws.ccccd.edu/jbrooks/LS/Notes/2006/Chapter4.pdf


World Health Organization. (1997). Preventing and managing the global epidemic. Geneva.