Nutrition, Growth and Metabolism

Good nutrition and physical activity are important for growth. For kids, a balance of nutritional foods, physical activity and plenty of sleep promotes healthy growth.

Nutritional needs change as we grow. For the newborn, there is no better food than breast milk. Older children and teenagers need a balance of foods to ensure good growth and development.

As nutritional needs change so do sleep patterns. A three-month-old baby will usually sleep between 13 and 15 hours per day while a school-age child should only need about 10 hours every night.

You've probably had times when you have been worried about your child's growth and appetite. It's normal for a child to have changes in appetite according to their stage of development. Some children may be hungry all the time during a growth spurt. At other times, it's difficult to get them to eat much at all. As long as they are healthy and happy, there should be no cause for concern.

Metabolism plays an important role in appetite and growth. In simple terms, metabolism is the rate at which kilojoules are burned for energy.

Several hormones such as growth hormone and thyroid hormone also have an important effect on metabolism. An oversupply or deficiency of these hormones can result in excessive or very slow growth.

EATING A HEALTHY BREAKFAST AND BEING ACTIVE THROUGHOUT THE DAY HELPS TO INCREASE METABOLISM.

OVERALL, A NUTRITIONALLY-BALANCED DIET FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS INCLUDES:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Proteins such as chicken, meat, lentils or beans
  • Carbohydrates such as pasta, noodles, couscous
  • Calcium rich foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, soy
  • Limiting foods that contain too much fat or sugar
  • Plenty of water