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Children (1- 6 yrs)
The years between 1 and 6, growth is generally slower than the first year but is gradual. Activity also increases markedly during the second year of life with increase in mobility. With development of entire set of teeth by the age of two the range of foods that can safely be consumed also increases. There is an increased need of all nutrients as there is growth of specific tissues.

Nutritional Requirements

Energy: Energy is required for growth and activity; insufficient food would result in undernutrition in terms of inadequate weight gain but will also hinder growth. The rate of growth fluctuates from one age to another. Upto the age of 10 there is no difference in sex for Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) . Due to improper weaning practices, the child may not meet the energy and protein requirement, Insufficient calorie intake can lead to protein deficiency.

Protein: Increase in muscle mass along with growth requires a higher protein intake. The increase in total body weight and blood volume and tissues leads to increased demands of all nutrients required in blood formation especially protein.

Fat: Fat including fat coming from different food groups should be 25% of total energy and essential fatty acids energy is 5 – 6 %.

Minerals: As this is a stage is one of growth calcium is one of the most important mineral requirements. The deposition is not uniform throughout the growing period. Calcium deficiency and adversely effect the bones of the growing child. Milk is the best source of calcium thus should be included liberally in the diet.

Another important mineral is iron that is required for blood formation. The increased iron requirement can be met with iron rich foods like rice flakes, egg yolk and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamins: Vitamins are essential for growth. Vitamin A deficiency is very common thus intake of milk, eggs, carrots and green leafy vegetables is a must. Vitamin D is essential for bone development. B vitamin requirements are based on energy requirements.

Dietary Guidelines
  • Diet should be adequate in quantity and quality of nutrients.
  • Use a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • The meals should be attractive
  • Food should be seasoned slightly
  • The food should be energy dense – little quantity providing more calories
  • Child should not be forced to eat
  • Person feeding should not show any dislike towards the food he/she is feeding the child
  • Children are sensitive to flavours, so change flavours everyday
  • Meals should follow a regular schedule
  • Child should never be hurried while taking the food
  • As the children at this age are picky eaters they might be unwilling to try new foods especially vegetables.
Factors effecting Nutritional status
  • Child may be sick
  • Worm infestation
  • Child is tired
  • Insufficient time of eating
  • Physiological disturbances like school stress, birth of sibling, etc.
  • To draw parents attention
  • No variety in food
  • Food is not to the child’s liking
  • Snack just before the meal
  • Diverted to play
Problems commonly found among these children
  • Dental Problems
  • Pica
  • Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM)
  • Vitamin A deficiency
Children (6 – 12 yrs)
The school age period is the latent time of growth. The rate of growth slows and body changes occur gradually. Girls usually distance boys be the latter part of the period. The slow rate of growth during this period results in gradual decline in the food requirement.
Nutritional requirements are same till the ninth year. After that there is a variation in some nutrients.

Nutritional Requirements

Energy: Body requirements are increased steadily for this group. Requirements remain the same for girls from 7 – 12 yrs but are increased for boys from 7 – 9 to 10 – 12 yrs as there is a gradual increase in the needs. This is because reserves are being laid down for adolescence. Details of the requirements are mentioned in the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).

Proteins: The increased requirements of protein would meet the demands of growth. Girls require more protein between 10 -12 than boys as they approach menarche.

Minerals: ten to twelve year old children require more calcium than adults to meet skeletal growth demands. As the blood volume is increased iron requirements in both boys and girls.

Vitamins: Vitamin A and C requirements are the same as the adults. Vitamin B requirements are proportional to the energy requirements.

Dietary Guidelines
  • Nutritional requirements should meet the increasing activity, growth and special requirements due to sickness and injury
  • Children this age are restless and want to spend less time eating so dishes should be quick to eat but still nutritionally adequate
  • Children need variety
  • Children have varying appetites, they prefer small snacky frequent meals
  • New foods should be given in acceptable forms at regular intervals until the child learns to accept it
  • Child should be encouraged to eat with the family, it not only improves the appetite but also the family interactions
  • If the child does not like vegetables, they can be incorporated as sandwiches and salads
  • Children at age want to make their own choices, so the parents should encourage them to make simple recipes and help them make healthier food choices
Problems commonly found among Children
  • Dental Caries
  • Underweight
  • Constipation
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