Nutritional Needs and Dietary Behavior in Middle Childhood (page 2)
Because school-age children are still growing, their nutritional intake is important. During middle childhood, energy intake (i.e., calories) must be sufficiently high to meet both growth and physical activity demands. Active children should aim to consume between 55 and 60% of their energy intake in the form of carbohydrates, less than 30% in the form of fats, and between 12 and 15% in the form of proteins. Protein is necessary for body growth, and thus protein requirements for children and adolescents are higher than for adults.
It is often difficult for active children to reach minimum nutritional goals by consuming three large meals a day. Consequently, it is suggested that children be provided four or five smaller meals a day with healthy snacks in between to provide sufficient energy.
Small amounts of vitamins and minerals are needed as well to maintain health. To ensure that children are receiving the necessary vitamins and minerals, it is best to encourage a well-balanced diet, rather than vitamin supplementation.
In 2001, just under half a million children in the United States reported living in a household with repeated hunger and insecure food sources, although this number is much higher in developing countries (Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 2003). Nutritional deficiencies have direct implications for children’s learning and behavior in school (Lozoff, Jimenez, Hagen, Mollen, & Wolf, 2000). Early nutritional deficiencies in infancy can inhibit critical growth in the brain and can affect long-term cognitive abilities (Brown & Pollitt, 1996). Daily deficiencies in school-age children can cause lethargy, poor concentration, greater susceptibility to illness, moodiness, and poor psychomotor skills. Supplemental breakfast and lunch programs provided to children from low socioeconomic households have been shown to improve overall health, energy levels, attendance, and subsequent academic performance (Grantham-McGregor, Ani, & Fernald, 2001; Shemilt et al., 2004).
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