The Importance of Healthy Food for Children

by Kelly Burch

    Teaching your children healthy eating habits can set them on course for a healthy life. Most kids love ice cream and cookies, but incorporating healthy foods in children's lives is vital. Children are growing rapidly and developing every day, so their bodies need a healthy diet in order to support healthy growth. New research on the effects of healthy eating confirm that a diet rich in wholesome, homemade food is just what kids need.

    Healthy Weight

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of childhood obesity has doubled in the past 30 years. Obese children are at risk for many diseases, including diabetes, and bone and joint problems. In addition, they are often socially stigmatized, teased and bullied, which can lead to psychological problems. Eating healthy food is a key component to maintaining a healthy weight.

    Beyond the Scale

    Childhood obesity is a serious problem; however, eating healthy food has benefits beyond the scale. The USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 says that all Americans, including children, should eat healthy foods in order to maintain healthy weight, promote health and prevent disease. The guidelines suggest balancing calories, increasing the consumption of healthy nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, and decreasing the consumption of processed foods such as refined grains, saturated fats and added sugars.

    Healthy Eating for Healthy Cells

    The importance of healthy eating for kids extends well beyond healthy looks. Antioxidants are materials that help renew our cells, important for growing bodies. Getting the right vitamins, minerals and nutrients is crucial to growing up healthy. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, children can incorporate healthy nutrients into every meal, by choosing fruit (antioxidants, vitamins A and C), whole grains (vitamin B) and dairy (protein, calcium).

    Making Healthy Eating Child-Friendly

    Even adults can have trouble keeping up with the latest healthy-eating guidelines. However, the United States Department of Agriculture has developed a new, simple way for kids to visualize healthy eating habits. Choose My Plate encourages kids to make easy changes toward healthy eating. The graphic, which stems from the Food Pyramid, encourages kids to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables. Whole grains, protein and low-fat milk balance the meal.

    About the Author

    Kelly Burch has done television, print, and web writing since graduating from Boston University with a bachelor's degree in journalism. A correspondent for Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc, she writes for local newspapers and magazines. She has also contributed to Network Ten (Australia), and for "Yoga Magazine" (London).

    Photo Credits

    • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images