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USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine

Consumer News--Nutrition & Your Child



Volume 1, 2003

Inside this issue:

""Kids’ Energy Recommendations Revised

""Internet bonus article:
New 'Energy Calculator' Could Help Kids Balance Diet, Exercise

""New BMI Calculator Helps Parents Track Kids' Gains

"" Winners Of Kids' Computer Game Take Home Better Diet

""Bring The Map, Forget The Snacks For Family Road Trip

""CNRC Scientists Develop Bone-Density Database

""Q&A: What foods present a choking risk for children?


Volume 1, 2003

Additional Resources

Assessing childhood growth and weight gain -- tools and tips for parents
Energy Needs Calculator Children's Energy Needs Calculator.
CDC BMI Percentile Growth Charts for Boys and Girls
BMI Calculator Children's Energy Needs Calculator.
Food Guide Pyramid and the Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children
Visual Cues Help Make Sense of Portion Sizes
How to Raise a Healthy Eater
How to Help Your Overweight Child -- brochure
Latest IOM Nutritional Recommendations for Vitamins, Minerals and Macronutrients

Kids’ Energy Recommendations Revised

New energy recommendations recently released by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine could help in the fight against childhood obesity.

the new guidelines recommend that children accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day“The new recommendations will affect programs ranging from food labeling laws to school breakfast and lunch programs, to nutrition therapies designed to help overweight children,” said CNRC energy expert Dr. Nancy Butte. Butte, a Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, helped develop the new recommendations.

According to Butte, improved research methods enabled scientists to tie the energy recommendations to children’s activity levels for the first time. Hundreds of measurements of total energy expenditure (TEE), including many collected at the CNRC, provided key information about how many calories children actually burn while going about their daily lives.

Although the new guidelines allow for four levels of physical activity -- sedentary, moderate, active or vigorous -- Butte said they also recommend that children accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day to promote health. This amount puts children in the “active” zone of the energy recommendations.

“Linking children’s energy needs to their activity level is essential because, contrary to popular belief, a child’s energy needs for growth are small compared to that for physical activity,” she said.

Research shows that through age 9, children need a mere 20 extra calories per day to support growth. Children 9 to 18 need an additional 25 calories per day. In contrast, a 9-year-old who is physically active for an hour a day burns a total of about 2000 calories per day, or about 250 calories more than his “couch-potato” peers.

This difference suggests that an inactive 9-year-old who habitually consumes the same number of calories as an active peer could gain nearly 26 pounds in one year -- far more than the six to eight pound gain generally considered healthy for that age.

"Understanding a child’s energy needs could help parents and kids better balance their food choices with their physical activity level," Butte said.

Editor's Note:

The IOM's new energy recommendations for children are behind the CNRC's new interactive Children's Energy Needs Calculator        
Read about the calculator                click here to try the energy needs calculator


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