Schools Nutrition Portion Size BY MAGIC BREAKFAST'S NUTRITION TEAM It seems that we are constantly being told to eat less by health experts while, in contrast, food companies are creating super-size portions to sell to us. The average dinner plate has increased in size by 2.5 inches in diameter since the 1970's, so it is no surprise that eating the right amount of food is becoming trickier for both adults and children. Children need a nutritious, balanced diet in order that they can meet their nutritional needs for activity, growth and development. Acquiring healthy eating and drinking patterns in childhood can promote good health and well-being in later life. The focus of eating well for children should always be on the range of interesting and tasty food that can make up a healthy diet, rather than a focus on denying them certain foods and drinks. Children need to have a good appetite to eat well, therefore they need to be hungry at meal times. This is achieved by making sure they are active throughout the day. Children need energy (calories) to maintain their body functions and to be active, but also for growth, so their energy requirements are extremely high relative to their actual size. The more active a child is, the higher their energy needs will be and in some cases this can even be more than adults. So why are children getting heavier in the UK? Well this is for the same reason as adults. We are eating and drinking too many calories and not being active enough to utilise all this extra energy we are consuming. Over time the body stores up the extra energy as fat which in turn leads to people being overweight or obese. In both of the above examples the insufficient breakfast is providing the wrong type of fuel for a child as it is high in sugar, salt and fat and small in quantity. This is likely to lead to the child snacking on more, processed food throughout the day and make them less likely to meet their nutritional requirements for the day. So remember, it is important that a child gets enough energy from their breakfast and that it is the right type of energy that will sustain them throughout the morning. However, it is also important that children do not consume more energy than they are able to expend through activity in order for them not to put on an unhealthy amount of weight.