Feeding the 1 to 7-year-old child. A support paper for the South African paediatric food-based dietary guidelines

Nadia A Bowley, Megan A Pentz-Kluyts, Lesley T Bourne, Louise V Marino
Maternal & Child Nutrition 2007, 3 (4): 281-91
Young children embark on a transitional nutritional journey, progressing from total reliance on caregivers to independence, autonomy and self-determination. Appropriate nutritional intake in young children is a diverse concept, incorporating suitable nutritional choices and feeding behaviours. Lessons learnt in childhood will have long-term effects on the individual and society overall. Since South African children are raised in a country where under- and over-nutrition exist simultaneously, a careful balance should be achieved in any national public health message. The South African paediatric food-based dietary guidelines for children younger than 7 years strive to facilitate the education of carers of young children in the adoption of healthy eating practices. The guidelines address issues regarding variety in the diet that has been shown to improve both micro- and macronutrient intakes. Specific reference is made to starchy foods, vegetables, fruit and water along with protein sources, which should be consumed regularly. Milk, has been emphasised in these guidelines because of the poor calcium intake in South African children. The only guideline that limits intake is the sweet treats or drinks message, because of public health concerns such as obesity and dental caries. Other messages pertaining to eating habits take cognisance of the child's physiological limitations in gastric capacity and suggest small regular meals. Clean, safe drinking water is the beverage of choice. Non-food-based guidelines are also included, which recognize the importance of active play, for developmental and health purposes, as well as regular clinic attendance.


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