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August is National Kids Eat Right Month

National Kids Eat Right Month is here again, reminding us to check in on the most up-to-date nutrition recommendations for kids. Here are some things to know about Kids Eat Right Month and how to support parents and kids in choosing a healthy diet.

What Is National Kids Eat Right Month?

Each August, Kids Eat Right Month highlights an important joint initiative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Academy Foundation aimed at ending childhood obesity and teaching kids healthy eating habits for life. This initiative, known as Kids Eat Right, was launched in 2010 to encourage members to participate in childhood obesity-prevention projects in schools and communities and to help educate families about the importance of quality nutrition. 

A quality diet for kids is essential to optimize their growth and development and includes adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals obtained through nutrient-dense foods. It also means minimizing “empty calorie” foods and consuming reasonable portion sizes. Educating families on how to shop smart and eat right so kids are off to a healthy start begins with understanding what a nutritious diet for kids looks like.

To learn more about formulating healthy products for kids, watch our video below highlighting healthy snacking options from our latest product concept book focusing on nutrition for every step of life's journey. 

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Healthy Eating Recommendations for Kids

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 includes a chapter devoted entirely to healthy eating recommendations for children and adolescents, ages 2 through 18. This period of life is critically important to health as it’s not only characterized by high nutrient needs to support growth and development, but it also helps establish food choices and eating habits for life, thereby affecting future health. Here’s a look at some of the most important government recommendations on healthy eating for kids:

Nutrient-Dense Foods and Beverages

As children grow, calorie needs increase, making it especially important that these additional calories come from nutrient-dense foods and beverages to ensure all nutrient needs are met. Nutrient-dense foods and beverages include fat-free and low-fat dairy products, whole grains, beans, lean meats, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables—provided they’re prepared with no or little added sugars, salt, and saturated fat. The guidelines also recommend using snacks as an opportunity to promote nutrient-density, for example, by choosing apple slices or carrot sticks with hummus over chips or cookies.

Eating Across Food Groups and Subgroups

Kids' under-consumption of certain nutrients, such as the nutrients of public health concern (calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and dietary fiber) is associated with low intakes of certain food groups and subgroups. For example, by late adolescence, vegetable intake is about half of recommended amounts with a preference for starchy vegetables over red/orange and dark green vegetables. While grain intake is adequate, overall, whole grain intake is too low for children across all age groups. In addition, dairy intake declines throughout childhood. Products that include foods or nutrients from these low intake categories can help bridge these gaps.

child drinking milk

Reducing/Replacing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Another nutritional concern for children is the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages that tends to occur throughout childhood. These beverages, which range from sodas and fruit drinks to other sweetened beverages, are often high in calories without contributing essential nutrients. The Dietary Guidelines recommends consuming beverages with no added sugars—such as water or unsweetened fat-free or low-fat milk/fortified soy milk—especially for children ages 2 through 8, who can easily exceed their calorie requirements.

Nutritious Foods for a Healthy Future

Adopting healthy food choices early on can help kids maintain an ideal weight, get the nutrients they need to grow, and lay the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy eating. Manufacturers can support families looking for healthy options by formulating kids’ products with the nutrient-dense food ingredients and nutrient fortifications kids need most. 

As a global ingredient solutions leader, Glanbia Nutritionals offers ingredients ranging from cheeses to dairy and plant-based proteins to custom premix solutions to support a nutrient-dense diet. 

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