How Much Food Does a Child Need Each Day?

How Much Food Does a Child Need
Q:
How Much Food Does a Child Need

How much does a child need each day?

A:

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

Kids can benefit from dietary improvements at any age. Quality foods  make a difference when they are young, and their brains are growing most rapidly. It also makes a huge difference for teens, whose brains are restructuring for adult life.

For most kids, about 80% of adult height is gained before 6th grade is over, but the need for quality nutrition doesn’t stop there. About 20% of adult height and 50% of adult weight are gained during adolescence. Most boys undergo a dramatic increase in their lean body mass between the ages of 10 and 17. Because growth and change is so rapid during this period, the requirements for all nutrients increase.

You can use these guidelines to help make nutritious choices and create balanced meals for your kids. And remember that organic foods  may provide a nutrition bonus from healthy mineral content, higher antioxidant content, as well as lowering your child’s exposure to developmentally disruptive pesticides.

Girls from 4-8 years old Whole grains – 4 oz Vegetables – 1 cup Fruits – 1.5 cups Beans, nuts, eggs, or lean meats – 3 oz Milk, other dairy, or other source of calcium and protein – 2 cups

Boys from 4-8 years old Whole grains – 5 oz Vegetables – 1.5 cups Fruits – 1.5 cups Beans, nuts, eggs, or lean meats – 4 oz Milk, other dairy, or other source of calcium and protein – 2 cups

Girls from 9-13 years old Whole grains – 5 oz Vegetables – 2 cups Fruits – 1.5 cups Beans, nuts, eggs, or lean meats – 5 oz Milk, other dairy, or other source of calcium and protein – 3 cups

Boys from 9-13 years old Whole grains – 6 oz Vegetables – 2.5 cups Fruits – 1.5 cups Beans, nuts, eggs, or lean meats – 5 oz Milk, other dairy, or other source of calcium and protein – 3 cups

Girls from 14-18 years old Whole grains – 6oz Vegetables – 2.5 cups Fruits – 1.5 cups Beans, nuts, eggs, or lean meats – 5 oz Milk, other dairy, or other source of calcium and protein – 3 cups

Boys from 14-18 years old Whole grains – 7 oz Vegetables – 3 cups Fruits – 2 cups Beans, nuts, eggs, or lean meats – 6 oz Milk, other dairy, or other source of calcium and protein – 3 cups

Dr. Greene’s Recommendations are adapted from the 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics/American Heart Association guidelines.18

Read More From This Series:
Part 1 – Brain Food For Your Kids: How Do You Score?
Part 2 – From Backyard Gardens to Kindergartens
Part 3 – Brain Building
Part 4 – How is your food grown?
Part 5 – Antioxidants – Extra Credit
Part 6 – How Our Food Is Processed
Part 7 – Refined Sugars and Flours
Part 8 – School Fuel: Homework for Parents
Part 9 – How Much Does a Child Need Each Day?

Additional Info:
18 American Heart Association/American Academy of Pediatrics. Policy Statement. 2006. Dietary guidelines for children and adolescents: a guide for practitioners. Pediatrics 117(2)544-559.
Reviewed by: Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin, Rebecca Hicks
Last reviewed: October 20, 2011
Dr. Alan Greene

Article written by

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

 

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