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Home > Lifespan > Middle Childhood > Weight - Nutrition - Activity
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MIDDLE CHILDHOOD: Healthy Weight/Healthy Nutrition/Physical Activity

SECTIONS: Eating Healthy ~ Healthy Weight ~ Physical Activity


Mother, father, and young daughter making a saladEating Healthy

  • Share family meals together as often as possible. Make them pleasant and friendly. Encourage conversation. Turn off TVs, computers, and cell phones.

  • Help your child learn to choose healthy foods. Aim for at least 5 servings of fruits or vegetables every day by including them in meals and snacks.

  • Research shows breakfast helps children learn and behave better at school.

  • Make sure your child is getting enough calcium for strong bones and teeth—from milk or alternatives like low-fat yogurt and cheese.

    • Children ages 4 to 8 need about 2 cups of low-fat milk a day.
    • Children ages 9 to 18 need about 3 cups of low-fat milk a day.

  • Limit juice to 4 to 6 oz per day of 100% fruit juice. "Fruit drinks" and sodas are often high in calories and low in nutrients. Encourage water between meals.


Healthy Weight

  • The key to good health is a balance between the calories from foods eaten and the calories spent in activity.

  • Every day, encourage your child to eat fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, low fat or fat-free dairy products, and lean meats.

  • Serve small portions instead of large ones. Encourage your child to share when there are large portions of food, especially those high in fat or sugar.

  • If your child asks about diets or dietary supplements, discuss this with your health provider to make sure they are appropriate and safe.

  • Weight loss is almost never a good idea while your child's body is rapidly growing during puberty. If your child talks about going on a diet to lose weight, discuss this with your health care provider.


Physical Activity

  • Support your child's interests in sports and physical activity. Be his Number 1 Cheerleader!

  • Encourage your child to be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day. It could be all at once or for shorter periods over the course of the day.

  • Help your child find enjoyable ways to be active, such as walking or biking instead of riding in a car. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Being active with friends can increase the fun.

  • Join in the fun! Find activities your whole family enjoys that you can make part of your family's routine.

  • Limit your child's "screen time" to 2 hours or less a day. This includes watching TV, playing video games, texting, or using the computer (other than for homework).