Position of the American Dietetic Association: Dietary guidance for healthy children ages 2 to 11 years.J Am Diet Assoc 2004; 104(4):660-77JA
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that children ages 2 to 11 years should achieve optimal physical and cognitive development, attain a healthy weight, enjoy food, and reduce the risk of chronic disease through appropriate eating habits and participation in regular physical activity. The health status of American children has generally improved over the past three decades. However, the number of children who are overweight has more than doubled among 2- to 5-year-old children and more than tripled among 6- to 11-year-old children, which has major health consequences. This increase in childhood overweight has broadened the focus of dietary guidance to address children's over consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods and beverages and physical activity patterns. Health promotion will help reduce diet-related risks of chronic degenerative diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, and osteoporosis. This position paper reviews what US children are eating and explores trends in food and nutrient intakes as well as the impact of school meals on children's diets. Dietary recommendations and guidelines and the benefits of physical activity are also discussed. The roles of parents and caregivers in influencing the development of healthy eating behaviors are highlighted. The American Dietetic Association works with other allied health and food industry professionals to translate dietary recommendations and guidelines into achievable, healthful messages. Specific recommendations to improve the nutritional well-being of children are provided for dietetics professionals, parents, and caregivers.