Children’s Day: Recalling The Nutritional Requirements Of Children
“Good nutrition is the bedrock of child survival and development.” — UN
Universal Children’s Day is celebrated every year as a symbol of global appreciation of the little ones. It’s an opportunity for everyone to showcase their fraternity with children, and work towards the betterment of global issues surrounding the younger generation.
The day promotes the welfare of children across the world while supporting the objectives of the UN Charter. Various activities, events, and occasions are planned to protect the health, education, partaking, and other fundamental rights of the children.
History & Origin:
20th November 1959 marks the day when the UN Assembly developed and acquired the Declaration of Rights of Children. On the same date, the Convention on the Rights of a Child was also adopted 30 years later, in 1989.
The Convention is among the extensively ratified treaties related to human rights. It asserts the provision of children’s rights including education, health, life, play, protection, family time, etc.
The first-ever proclamation of International Children’s Day was observed at the World Conference on Child Welfare that took place in Geneva. While the date of observance can vary from country to country, the basic idea of the day remains the same; to work towards the welfare of children.
The Importance of Right Nutrition For Children?
When it comes to tending to children’s needs, one of our prime focuses should be to offer them appropriate nutrition. Out of the many objectives of the UN for Children’s Day, one relies on delivering balanced nutrition to avoid conditions such as stunting, obesity (overweight), or wasting.
Malnutrition affects three out of every five children in the world, and it is a factor that can be controlled with appropriate nutrition. The head count of children that are subject to stunting is 144 among the below-5 age group. Some of them are shorter than their fellows, others have brain incapabilities that impact their cognitive potential. This holds them back from learning and performing well in their professional and personal life as adults.
On the other hand, overweight children are recorded to be 38 million in the same age category. i.e., below 5. As the rapid access to and intake of processed foods, high in carbs, saturated fats, sugars, and salts become rampant, obesity among children also becomes an inevitable factor.
Wasting is another malnourished condition that affects 47 children around the world in the below 5 age category. The health status is characterized by a weakened immune system, excessively thin bodies, and increased death risk.
Considering all these factors are a consequence of inadequate children’s nutrition is a thing of concern. Aside from the above-mentioned issues, there are a number of other health conditions such as hidden hunger that lead children to risky health conditions. To counter these issues, we’ve put together a list of substances that must be a part of every child’s daily nutrition.
When the child is fed appropriately, with ample amount of macronutrients and micronutrients, the risk of developing malnourishment become close to thin.
Basic Nutritional Requirements Of Children:
Every child has varying nutritional needs that must be addressed in the correct way. The nutritional health of child aged 1 to 5 may differ from a 5-10 age group. The amount of calorie consumption on a daily basis is a factor all parents must keep an eye on to make sure their child does not get affected by any of the complications associated with malnutrition.
Calories Count For Different Age Groups:
The amount of calories a child may need depends on which age group, and gender group they lie in. Another meaningful factor is the daily activity of that child, which may increase or decrease the daily nutrient requirements.
Check with your child’s pediatrician to make sure that the weight, BMI, and growth pace of your child lie in a healthy range. The American Heart Association defines calorie requirements for different age groups, claiming that the 4-18 age range female gender should consume 1200-1800 calories per day. For boys of the same age, the bar has been set at 1400-2200 calories. The range increases as the age of the child increases, but it is best to assess the overall development of your child, relevant to their calorie consumption. It is also recommended that these calories be obtained via a healthy food source.
Here is a list of 7 nutrients in food that must be included in the diet of every child. The exact chart of necessitated amounts may be obtained from a professional.
Proteins work as building blocks, helping in child development and growth. They are essential for the timely development of body tissues and organs. As a component of DNA and RNA (genetic material), the mental and physical growth of a child significantly relies on their protein consumption. Just like athletes take protein to build muscle, children must also consume healthy amounts to keep growing taller. Infants usually derive their protein from their mother’s milk or formula milk, whereas older kids from nutritious food.
An obvious protein source is a meat, but it is also found in other foods like beans, legumes, dairy, corn, etc. Here is a list of foods that are good sources of protein.
● Dairy products
An ideal diet plan for a child includes appropriate amounts of carbohydrates and related sugars. Glucose is an excellent source of energy, whereas starch can also be taken in lower amounts. Carbohydrates are present in most foods that are a part of our daily diet, like bread, cereals, dairy products, vegetables, and fruits. However, moderation is the key. Consuming too many carbohydrates can lead to health issues, as it can hinder the absorption of vitamins and minerals in children and adults.
Foods that are a good source of carbohydrates include:
A type of carbohydrate, fiber is that part of a diet that does not get digested itself, but assists in the process of digestion. For children, it is important to take fiber to prevent bowel issues like constipation, irregular bowel movement, lack of satiety, etc. Not only does fiber help regulate bowel movements, but also keeps cholesterol and sugar levels under control. In fact, a study has also co-related the consumption of fiber with lower cardiovascular issues and cancer.
The FDA has recommended children below or of age 3 take 14 g of dietary fiber every day, whereas, for ages above 4, the recommended amount is 28g.
Foods containing a significant amount of fiber are:
● Whole-grain cereals
● Whole-grain bread
● Kidney beans
Fats must be taken in appropriate amounts to avoid obesity in children. Unsaturated fats are a good source of energy for kids. After consumption, they are stored in the body and enable sufficient use of other available nutrients in food.
According to American Heart Association, the total fat intake for 2 to 3 years of age, should be 30-35% of calories, whereas, for ages 4 to 18, it should not exceed 25-35% of calories. The amount is relevant if the fats are derived from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, like vegetable oils, fish, nuts, etc.
Foods containing high amounts of healthy fats include:
● Cooking oils
● Whole-milk dairy products
There are numerous types of vitamins, each responsible for serving and regulating different physiological or anatomical planes in children. Some contribute to bone growth, metabolism, vision, and nerve conduction, whereas others are responsible for the production of fatty acids and neurotransmitters.
Vitamins also play an important role in the development of blood components, coagulation factors, and antioxidants. They are also crucial to the synthesis of collagen, metabolism, and macronutrients.
Have a look at the table below to find foods with fair amounts of the 4 major vitamins, i.e., Folate, vitamins A, C, and D.
|Vitamin A||Vitamin B (Folate)||Vitamin C||Vitamin D|
|Broccoli/ Spinach/ Carrots||Lentils||Citrus fruits||Fortifies dairy (milk, some types of yogurts)|
|Milk||Chickpeas||Tomatoes/ potatoes||Fishes and fish oils|
|Salmon||Black beans/ kidney beans||cauliflower/ broccoli||Eggs|
|Eggs||Spinach||Orange juice||Fortified orange juice|
|Fish oils||Brussel Sprouts||Cantaloupe|
No one can deny the importance of calcium in a child’s diet. It plays a critical role in the growth of a child’s teeth and bones. It also helps regulate the function of muscles, nerves, and the heart. Every nutritionist emphasizes the importance of calcium for children, as it assists in their growth and blood clotting mechanism.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, children of ages 1-3 should get 700 mg of calcium every day, whereas those older than 4 years should obtain 1300 mg of calcium daily.
Out of the many good sources of calcium, here are a few:
● Ice cream
● Egg yolks
● Fortified plant-based “milk”
● Calcium-fortified orange juice
● Fortified cereals
A child’s muscles should have enough strength to enable them to enjoy sports, activities, and other essential tasks. Potassium plays an important role in muscle contraction, heart rate regulation, and nervous system development. The child may experience muscle weakness and irregular heart rate if their diet does not contain appropriate amounts of potassium. For ages 3 to 4, the FDA recommends a daily intake of 3000 mg of potassium. For older children, the amount rises to 4700 mg.
Here is a list of foods that contain significant amounts of protein:
● Orange juice
● Prune juice
● Sweet potatoes
Children’s Day date is right around the corner, and it is the perfect time for us to assess our child’s development and nutrition. A nutrient-dense food diet is absolutely essential for a healthy child. Balanced nutrition and the incorporation of all essential nutrients in the diet are key factors in regulating a child’s growth. Talk to a nutritionist, and keep a track of your child’s calories and other nutrients.
Arabic foods contain some of the most fulfilling, and balanced meals, enough to fulfill a child’s nutritional requirements. At Arabian Tea House, we’ve put together a children’s menu that meets most of the nutrient requirements for children. With balanced plates, we aim to deliver your child sufficient nutrition this Children’s Day, as well as every day. Visit us today, or call to place your orders. You can have a look at our menu on your website, or click here to view the PDF.
1 . https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5731843/