Is your child involved in a lot of physical activities and burns a large number of calories? If yes, then it is important for you to know how many calories your child requires to stay healthy and active.
An active child requires more calories to remain fit and perform at the optimum level. If the calorie intake is less than adequate, the child might feel lethargic. And if the calorie intake exceeds the recommended requirement, it might lead to obesity. However, with the growing awareness among children about healthy dietary habits, many desist from eating foods that are high in calories to stay lean and thin. But some children overdo it.
Adequate amount of calorie intake is essential for the body to function properly. Lack of or decreased calorie intake can lead to weakened immunity, lethargy, muscle atrophy and eventual organ failure. Generally, boys need more calories than girls of the same age to maintain a healthy body weight and energy level. The calorie requirement increases as boys attain puberty. During this time, hunger pangs help in regulating their calorie intake.
Before we start discussing about a healthy diet, let’s look at the benefits of maintaining adequate calorie levels in the body:
- Proper functioning of body organs like maintaining a regular heart beat and lung function
- Growth and development of the body
- Maintaining proper body weight
- Maintaining physiological process in the body
- Building body immunity
To provide proper nutrition, parents should consider providing their child with foods that contain natural sugar. Remove items that contain added sugar like sodas, chocolates, etc., from the child’s diet. The following are some of the natural foods that will fulfill a child’s calorie requirements in a healthy way:
- Coconut milk
- Nuts and seeds
- Dry fruits
- Whole grains
- Milk and dairy products
Every child burns calories at a different rate and there is no particular number of calories that a child should consume. Children with light physical activity burn less calories and so require a lesser amount than those having a very active lifestyle. But there is a recommended range for children of different age groups with different dietary requirements.
The author is a Nutritionist at Columbia Asia Hospital, Bangalore.