Childhood Nutrition

Childhood Nutrition 

By Daniel Rocha 

CMI and SUNM Gradu 

Nutrition explains how the body obtains nutrients from food to stay healthy. Good nutrition for children prevents disease and promotes general health, growth, and development.


Childhood nutrition refers to dietary needs for children 2–11 years of age. Children with health conditions may require additional guidance. Proper nutrition for children requires adequate calories and essential nutrients to maintain growth, maximize cognitive development, and promote health. The diet includes carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Balance within the diet ensures adequate nutrient intake, providing sufficient energy for proper growth, development, and activity while preventing excess weight gain. Foods selected should be high in nutrient density and be varied enough to achieve adequacy, balance, and moderation to support the child's growth and developmental needs. (Porter et al. 2021) 


Children’s diet should rely on various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat and nonfat dairy products, legumes, fish, and lean meats while limiting saturated fats, cholesterol, sugar, and salt.

(Porter et al. 2021)


Adolescent Nutrition


Good nutrition for adolescents can prevent disease and influences proper health, growth, and development. Vitamins are required by the body in small to regulate metabolism and to maintain average growth and functioning. Minerals are the building blocks that make up the muscles, tissues, and bones but are also crucial for hormones, transport of oxygen, and enzyme systems.


Adopting a balanced eating pattern

Teenagers often eat high levels of junk food, sweets, and sodas, especially when away from home. Teens do not meet the Dietary Guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption and consume the recommended fat. Reports also show that adolescent boys and girls use unsuccessful methods to lose weight. Some try to lose weight by increasing exercise while not eating more nutritious foods. This is why health professionals emphasize the importance of adopting more nutritional diets, alongside increased activity, when it comes to weight loss. (Odle 2021)




Many adolescents are advised to moderate drinking of high-sugar beverages and fruit juices. Caffeine from soda and coffee disrupts sleep patterns if consumed late at night. Adolescents should not drink alcoholic drinks but should stay hydrated throughout the day. (Odle 2021)



Nutrition for strength

Adolescents who are physically active and play sports have different nutritional needs. For example, they will require more fluids while exercising, and they will require more carbohydrates in their diets. Carbohydrates provide energy and should come from whole grains and fruits.

(Odle 2021)



Teen Nutrition


Teen nutrition relates to teenagers between the ages of 13–19. Teenagers require healthful foods to grow and develop normally during puberty and prevent obesity and future disease. 


“The USDA guidelines suggest the following daily food selections for teens:

  • 5–2 cups (12–16 oz) fruits
  • 1 cup (8 oz) of raw or cooked vegetables, or 2 cups (16 oz) of raw leafy green vegetables
  • 5–8 oz of whole grains
  • 5–6.5 oz of protein
  • 3 cups (24 oz) of food from the dairy group
  • 5–6 tsp (25–30 mL) of healthful oils
  • limited amounts of fats and sugars.”

(Odle 2021)


Nutrient and health benefits

The MyPlate guide is designed for people of all ages to attain advice regarding the types of foods that provide optimal proportions of the essential nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), along with the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals. The dietary guidelines recommend specific daily amounts of various vitamins and minerals to assure optimal nutrition throughout life.

(Odle 2021)



FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. Good fruit choices such as whole fruits as apples, bananas, cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, fruit cocktails, plums, grapefruit, kiwi, nectarines, strawberries, and watermelon. Vegetable servings are obtained from cooked or raw vegetables such as asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, green and red peppers, green beans, kale, peas, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, tomato, zucchini, or vegetable juice.


Fruits and vegetables ensure proper mental and physical development. Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients antioxidants, which prevent cell damage and disease. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables also lowers the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, kidney stones, bone density loss, and hypertension. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables promote healthy digestion and reduce the risk of obesity. (Odle 2021)



WHOLE GRAINS. Whole-grain foods such as wheat, rice, oats, and barley contain fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Refined grains are stripped of their nutritional value when milled, which removes the bran and the germ. Whole grains retain their nutritional value and are higher in fiber.

(Odle 2021)



PROTEIN. Protein is found in meat, poultry, seafood, beans, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Meat and poultry selections should be lean or low-fat. Protein servings supply iron, B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium. Dietitians recommend seafood for the omega-3 fatty acids, which promote joint health. Vegetarians can replace meats and seafood with beans, soy products, nuts, and seeds.

(Odle 2021)



DAIRY. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese provide calcium for strong bones and teeth. Dairy products also contain vitamin D, potassium, protein and help maintain healthy blood pressure and phosphorus levels.

(Odle 2021)



OILS Teens should primarily consume essential fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Oils are high in calories and should be consumed in limited quantities, but they provide vitamin E and do not raise LDL or bad cholesterol. (Odle 2021)



Yes, it is known that our society is built on convenience and availability. This is why there are fast god restaurants at almost every corner in every American city. As much as I believe this is a losing battle, learning nutritional guidelines and essential early will help young adults choose healthier options and live healthier adult lives without disease and illness. 


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Odle, T. G., Rocheleau, J., & Caffrey, C. (2021). Adolescent Nutrition. In J. L. Longe (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Children's Health: Infancy through Adolescence (4th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 60-65). Gale.


Odle, T. G., Rocheleau, J., & Caffrey, C. (2021). Teen Nutrition. In J. L. Longe (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Children's Health: Infancy through Adolescence (4th ed., Vol. 6, pp. 2764-2768). Gale.


Porter, M. C. M., Oberleitner, G., & Harmon, A. (2021). Childhood Nutrition. In J. L. Longe (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Children's Health: Infancy through Adolescence (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 587-591). Gale.

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