Nutrition Review: Lifestyle Approaches to Promoting Healthy Eating for Children

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Healthy eating habits are vital to establish during childhood and sustain thereafter. Nourishing, well-balanced diets are essential for proper growth, immunity, physical and mental development, health and well-being, and reduced risk of chronic diseases later in life. Health care professionals, parents, and teachers should be aware of common nutrition-related concerns in children and teens, such as dental caries, allergies, anemia, growth retardation, eating disorders, and obesity, and watch for indicators that a child may be at risk for these. Foods that comprise a healthy diet for children include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and lean sources of protein. Foods and beverages with low nutrient density and high energy density should be consumed in moderation only, within a child's discretionary calorie allowance. Although children may need to eat more frequently than adults, they should be taught healthy snacking practices. Role modeling and nutrition education from adults in children's lives are critical in promoting lifelong healthy eating. Resources to facilitate these include Web sites from the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetics Association, MyPyramid.gov/kids, and the US Dietary Guidelines. © 2008, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.

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American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine