Young Children: Preparing for the Future

Jennifer J. Francis and Kathryn Alp

Key Points

  • • A carefully chosen diet can provide the energy and nutrients that children need to grow, learn, and play.
  • • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2000) growth charts are typically used to monitor growth.
  • • The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate resource are appropriate tools to support healthy food choices for children.
  • • Childhood overweight is a multifactorial problem which requires a very broad approach, including diet, physical activity, psychological support, behavior modification, and caretaker involvement.
  • • Food insecurity, iron-deficiency anemia, and food allergies are all issues which may affect dietary quality and may require referrals to registered dietitians or food assistance programs.
  • • Nutritional and vitamin supplements are not necessary for well-nourished children.

Keywords Children • Growth charts • Child obesity • Dietary guidance • Physical activity • Food

allergies • Iron-deficiency anemia • Food insecurity


Early childhood nutrition is essential for growth and development and can establish dietary habits that last into adulthood. It is important for children to receive a balanced diet that provides a variety of foods in order to ensure that their energy and nutrient intake are adequate. Parents and caregivers play an important role in modeling healthy eating behaviors, and care should be given to delineate the role of the adult and that of the child during mealtime [1]. Poor nutrition in childhood can increase the risk of illness and obesity and can affect intellectual and physical capacities [2].

J. J. Francis, M.P.H., R.D.

Dietetics Program, Southern Maine Community College, South Portland, ME, USA

K. Alp, B.Sc., R.D. (*)

Registered Dietitian, Replenish Nutrition, Ottawa, ON, Canada e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

N.J. Temple et al. (eds.), Nutrition Guide for Physicians and Related Healthcare Professionals, Nutrition and Health, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-49929-1_3

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