The daily values provided on most food labels are the recommended amounts for adults. Children typically require a lower daily amount. Many parents are surprised to learn that even the labels on food clearly marketed for children, such as pasta shaped like popular cartoon characters, reflect the recommended daily nutritional components for adults and not the children the product is predominately consumed by. It is important that parents research the correct daily values for their child’s age group to ensure the correct nutritional recommendations are being met.
Following the daily values printed on most food labels may lead to a child being over fed. The daily recommendation of calories for adults is 2,000. However, a child between the ages of four to eight years old should have approximately 1,500 calories a day. A small child does not need to eat the same amount of calories each day to fuel his body as his much larger father. Feeding children too many calories may lead to obesity, childhood diabetes and a host of other problems. It could also set the child up for a lifetime of bad eating habits.
On the other hand, children need some of other nutrients than adults. The daily recommendation of calcium for most adults is 1,000 milligrams. Once children hit puberty through the older teen years, the recommendation of calcium rises to 1,300 milligrams a day. Children in this same age group also need more fiber than adults. The protein recommendation for teenage boys is higher than that of adults and children of other ages.
There are many resources available regarding the daily nutritional values recommended for children. The basic calculations are based on the child’s age. Gender is taken into consideration during the teenage years. A child’s activity level and metabolism rate may also cause them to need more or less food. The child’s pediatrician can offer valuable suggested based on the child’s individual history. Most pediatric offices also have handy charts available that provide a quick reference to converting the daily values for adults into the correct nutritional recommendations for children.