Children's nutrition: How much should kids eat?



Obesity in almost all parts of the world is rising. Worryingly weight issues among children are becoming ever more commonplace. For example in Australia national statistics suggest that 1.5 million children under the age of 18 are categorised as overweight or obese which equates to 20-25% of the country's kids.

Statistics around the world are no less encouraging. The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that obesity-related illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes are increasing in even developing countries. It is believed that worldwide there are 22 million children under the age of 5 who are overweight or obese.

Consequently WHO is attempting to reduce the amount of junk food consumed by the world's children. Recent steps have been made to enlist the cooperation of food suppliers.

 

How much should kids eat?

Of course, an important role in tackling childhood obesity is to educate parents about the nutritional needs of their kids starting with how much children should eat. Obviously, the calorie requirements of children will differ depending on the circumstance for example speed of metabolism and the amount of exercise he or she gets. However typically the recommended daily amounts are as follows:

Sex
Age
Inactive
Moderately Active
Active
Boy & Girl
 
2-3
 
1000kcal
 
1000-1400kcal
 
1000-1400kcal
 
Girl
 
4-8
9-13
14-18
1200kcal
1600kcal
1800kcal
1400-1600kcal
1600-2000kcal
2000kcal
1400-1800kcal
1800-2200kcal
2400kcal
Boy
4-8
9-13
14-18
1400kcal
1800kcal
2200kcal
1400-1600kcal
1800-2200kcal
2400-2800kcal
1600-2000kcal
2000-2600kcal
2800-3200kcal
 

 

How do I know if my child is overweight?

Childhood obesity is usually calculated using the BMI (body mass index) which provides a height-to-weight ratio to calculate whether a child is overweight. However, BMI alone can give a false reading due to other factors. Therefore gender and age are also taken into consideration because the amount of body fat will vary. Typically if your child is larger than 85-95% of children in the same age and gender group then he or she is categorised as overweight.

Of course, if you are worried about your child's weight then it is wise to seek the advice of a doctor who will be able to give you an accurate assessment. In addition, a doctor will provide advice on how to increase your child's health and reduce his or her weight.

 

How to reduce a child's weight

Obviously, when trying to reduce a child's weight it is important to do so healthily. In other words, it is crucial that children continue to get the nutrition they need to develop. Fortunately, the solution to a child's obesity can be found in very simple lifestyle changes. For example, try to increase the amount of exercise that your child gets. You may need to begin with light exercise and gradually increase the exertion required. This may simply mean restricting the amount of time your child can spend watching TV or playing computer games as this will encourage outdoor play.

Additionally, it is crucial to promote healthy eating. Try to add more fruit and vegetables into your kid's diet. Wholegrain and protein-rich foods are beneficial too. Essentially the aim is to reduce processed and fast foods and start eating wholesome fresh produce.

Written by Dr Naras Lapsys

Looking for more information? Read Nutrition for kids 


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