School children (4 to 11 years old)

Young children on a climbing frame in a school gymnasium

At this stage in life energy demands are high, due to rapid growth and high levels of physical activity.

Children need a wide range of macronutrients and micronutrients to meet their nutritional needs.

It is important during childhood that good food habits are instilled. The hope is that these will carry through into adulthood, thus decreasing the risk of dietary-related disorders.

Fat

Children only require small amounts of fat. It is important for children to consume some fat as they provide fat soluble vitamins needed at this age. It is important to give children unsaturated fats, rather than saturated fats, in order to decrease their risk of cardiovascular-related problems in later life.

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A large amount of high fat food should be avoided in order to decrease the risk of childhood obesity

Carbohydrates

50% of daily energy requirements should come from carbohydrate.

No more than 5% of carbohydrate intake should be from sugary carbohydrates.

Starchy carbohydrates should be the main source of energy for children as they release energy slowly over a long period of time.

Older children need 20g of fibre per day. To achieve this starchy carbohydrates should be taken in wholegrain form.

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Children should have a limited intake of sugary carbohydrates to help avoid tooth decay

Protein

Protein requirements are high as growth is rapid at this stage of the lifecycle.

Vitamin C

This is important to maintain a strong immune system – helping to prevent the colds, flus and bugs that children may pick up at school.

It also contributes to wound healing – key for children as they are prone to falling and having cut or grazed knees.

B group vitamins

The B group vitamins help the release of energy from food. This is important as children are so active.