Why it is Important for Your Child’s Health
- During Middle School years children’s bodies are rapidly changing, making nutrition an important issue.
- Nearly 1 in 3 children in America are overweight or obese. (Reece, 2008)
- Children require more calories and calcium on a daily basis to give them energy and bone growth.
- It is important that children are provided food choices that offer high nutritional value during their stages of development.
- Some preteens may start to restrict calories as they often start to become aware of weight and become conscious of body image.
- Children are more likely to select fast foods, or foods high in sugar when given the choice.
Facts About Childhood Nutrition
- Missing meals and feeling hungry can impact development and achievement in school. There have been several studies done that indicate if a child is hungry in school they are more likely to struggle academically and may have trouble with behavior and concentration.
- Children who eat breakfast are likely to perform better. Studies have shown academic performance among students who eat breakfast increases, especially in math and are less likely to be late, and show fewer behavioral and psychological problems.
- Poor nutrition can lead to obesity and other health issues. Drinking soda/drinks high in sugar, eating fast food more than once per week and not drinking enough water can lead to weight gain and even obesity.
- Lack of physical activity and poor nutrition leads to weight gain and obesity. Children need to release their energy just like adults do in order to burn off some of the calories they have been eating in order to avoid weight gain.
What Can We Do About It?
- Stay informed about your child’s daily food intake. Whether your child receives breakfast and lunch at school or you provide that to them, make sure you know what they are eating. Talk to your child about their daily meals and make sure the options you give them are healthy. Plan a meal at home in the evening.
- Make sure your child is getting breakfast. If your child eats breakfast at home, get them up 10 minutes earlier to make sure they sit down and get to eat some breakfast with you. Emphasize the importance of breakfast by example and encourage your child to eat it daily.
- Keep healthy food stocked at home. You may not be able to control what your child can eat outside the home all the time, but you can control what you feed them at home. Limit soda, juice, and other sugary drinks in the home and provide them with milk and water. Make sure to provide fruit and vegetables when you can. Enforce a limit on sweets on a daily basis and avoid rewarding your child’s behavior with food.
- Physical activity is important. Get your child involved in activities they are interested in. Take the time to supervise outdoor play on a daily basis. Contact your local park district about activities and ask about financial assistance if needed.