Feeding your child the right foods is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. Though occasional treats are unlikely to cause much harm, your child needs proper vitamins and nutrients to develop properly.

Medical research shows children lacking a healthy diet experience stunted growth, poor development both physically and mentally, and suffer from a low quality of life.

How can proper nutrition help in the development and growth of your child?

As any parent can attest to, children grow fast. Unfortunately, kids suffering from poor nutrition are less likely to grow as fast as they should. A rapid period of growth occurs in the first year of a childs life.

If your child does not receive what he or she needs in terms of nutrition during this time, it can have an affect for years to come. This is why breast feeding and choosing the proper formula are such important choices for new parents.

Childhood growth does not end once toddlerhood arrives. Kids continue to grow at a rate of between two and three inches per year until puberty. Another rapid period of growth occurs in early to mid-adolescence, coinciding with hormonal changes and other developmental milestones.

If a child lacks poor nutrition during this period, it can have an affect well into adulthood.

How Nutrition Affects Growth

A child who does not receive enough vitamins and minerals will be shorter and weaker than one who eats properly. Though growth depends partially on genetics, nutrition also plays a major role. For instance, a child with parents and grandparents all around five and a half feet in height is unlikely to grow to well over six feet.

However, if this same child is malnourished, he or she runs the risk of never growing to a full potential height. This child might reach five foot four with proper nourishment, but could grow to only five feet or less if lacking in proper nutrition.

In addition to size, children suffering from lack of nutrition are also at risk for developmental problems with motor skills and serious health conditions, such as anemia. If calcium is deficient in a childs diet, there is also risk for brittle teeth and bones, which can develop into osteoporosis.

Quality of Life

Well nourished children are almost always happier than malnourished children. Children lacking in nutrients also lack energy, which means they are less likely to participate in physical play. This develops into a sedentary lifestyle, which coupled with poor nutrition, develops into secondary problems.

If a child is consuming a lot of empty calories and lacks the energy to engage in physical play and exercise, he or she will gain weight. Overweight children suffer many of the same risks as overweight adults, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and cancer.

Though the problem might not arise until adulthood, the longer a child eats poorly and neglects physical activity the more likely there is to be a long-term problem.

Nutrition is a serious issue for parents and children. A child fed a healthy diet with only occasional treats enjoys proper growth and development. Learn as much as you can about healthy eating, set good examples, and include your child in the process of learning about health.

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