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Middle Childhood

During middle childhood, regular food habits should be established. This includes eating three meals and two snacks every day. A variety of foods should be chosen with special attention to foods high in calcium (such as low-fat dairy products and dark green vegetables), and zinc and iron (such as low-fat animal products and fortified breakfast cereal). Over-consumption of foods high in fat (such as whole milk, table spreads, and cooking oil), saturated fat (full-fat dairy products, animal products, and solid cooking fats), and sodium (salt and cheese) need to be avoided. Participation in regular physical activity is important to reduce the risk of obesity and development of chronic disease such as coronary heart disease or hypertension.

During and just before a growth spurt, a child's appetite and food intake will increase. The percentage of body fat in older school-age children increases in preparation for the growth spurt during adolescence. Parents should be aware that a child's body image becomes very important at this time. The increased fat mass that naturally occurs during these periods, particularly among girls, can be alarming unless the family realizes that this is normal development. Some preadolescent children may become concerned that they are overweight and may begin to eat less, therefore compromising their normal growth and development. It can also lay the foundation for future psychological issues, such as eating disorders.

Additional topics

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 6Nutrition - Infancy, Early Childhood, Middle Childhood, Adolescence, Government Nutrition Assistance Programs