Fuel for children
It is important to maintain a healthy diet throughout your life, but for children it is essential for their normal growth and development.
Getting all the necessary nutrients from food and drinks such as milk, along with plenty of exercise, has an immediate impact on children's well-being, as well as long-term consequences for their health when they reach adulthood.
Establishing good eating and exercise habits early in life will help your child achieve his or her growth potential and provide the foundation for a healthy life.
Children need roughly the same basic proportions of foods from the different food groups as adults do, but in smaller quantities. These calories and nutrients allow a child's brain to reach its full potential. Without sufficient nutrients, a child's brain may not grow properly, which can affect intellectual development.
Calcium for healthy bones
Although the height of a child's parents affects how tall he or she will eventually be as an adult, diet plays a key role too. Children who do not get enough vitamin D and calcium will be shorter than other children of the same age and they are also at greater risk for bone fractures compared to those who get enough of these nutrients.
Energy and nutrient needs
Body composition (the relative amount of body fat, muscle, and bone), the amount of physical activity that a child does, and his or her age determine the energy and nutrient needs of the child. These requirements will vary dramatically depending on the stage of his or her growth and development. For example, the more muscle an adolescent boy or girl has, the greater his or her calorie requirements will be.
The changing body
Babies and toddlers have a high amount of body fat, which starts to decrease as they enter their primary school years. During puberty, children's body fat will increase again. Boys and girls have similar amounts of body fat until the end of adolescence, when boys lose some of the body fat. Girls, however, maintain the extra body fat deposited during adolescence throughout their adult years.
There is also a difference in the proportion of muscle that boys and girls have. Both have similar amounts until puberty, at which stage boys triple their muscle mass, but girls only double theirs. This difference helps explain the higher energy requirements of teenage boys and men compared to that of teenage girls and women.
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