Calories, Protein, Carbohydrate (CHO), Fat, Sodium, Fiber and Calcium Recommendations for Children*

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

If we are going to conquer childhood obesity, responsible parents need to know how many calories their children need and how many calories their children are actually eating per day.  In addition, if you children are playing sports, knowing their calorie needs will help to ensure they are getting enough to eat for their sport and for growth, too.

Keeping a Food Diary/Journal to get an idea of how many calories your child is eating at mealtime, between meals, types and amounts of fluids are drinking is an effective way to track calories.  There are many apps that are FREE that you can use to help with this process. Patents can also get most nutritional information from food labels as well. Meat and seafood along with produce typically have nutrition information listed at the meat & fresh produce department. Matching the calories eaten versus the calories required will help parents to determine what strategies need to be employed to help their child lose or gain weight or excel at their sports.

If your child goes to a Jefferson County Public School (JCPS), you can go online and get the nutritional information for the breakfast and lunch menus. If I were a JCPS parent, I would ask JCSP to add the calories to all their menus posted online to make it easier for busy parents to help them steer their children into making good choices at school. Today, you can get the information online in many PDFs and you have to sift through all the information yourself. (http://www.jefferson.kyschools.us/Departments/NutritionServices/education/index.html#1).  If restaurants are required to post calories for all their menu items, schools should also be required to post their calories as well for convenience. At JCPS, lunches have gone up $.10 each lunch meal for regular paid students to pay for all the new healthier choices offered by the USDA School Lunch Program.        

Below are tables that will be useful to get an idea of how many calories & macronutrients you child would need each day. You can also use the online calculator to get a better estimate.

 

Table 1: Nutritional Needs for kids age 2 – 3.

Nutrient

Girls & Boys: ages 2 -3

Calories (kcal)

1000 – 1400 depending on growth & activity level

Protein (g) 5 – 20%

13 to 50 g for 1000 kcal

CHO (g) 45 – 65%

113 – 163 g for 1000 kcal

Fat (g) 30 – 40%

33 – 44 g 1000

Sodium (mg)

1000 mg

Dietary Fiber (g)

14 – 20 grams

Calcium (mg)

700 mg

 

Table 2: Nutritional Needs for girls ages 4 to 18.

 

Nutrient Girls ages 4 – 8 Girls ages 9 – 13 Girls ages 14 – 18
Calories (kcal) 1200 – 1800 1400 – 2200 1800 – 2400
Protein (g) 10-30% kcal 30 – 90 g for 1200 kcal 35 – 105 g for 1200 kcal 45 – 135 g for 1200 kcal
CHO (g) 45 – 65% kcal 135 – 195 g for 1200 kcal 158 – 228 g for 1400 kcal 203 – 293 g for 1800 kcal
Fat (g) 25 35% kcal 33 – 47 g for 1200 kcal 39 – 54 g for 1400 kcal 50 – 70 g for 1800 kcal
Sodium (mg) 1200 mg per day 1500 mg per day 1500 mg per day
Dietary Fiber  (g) 17 – 25 g/day 20 – 31 g/day 25 – 34 g/day
Calcium (mg) 1000 mg/day 1300 mg/day 1300 mg/day

 

Table 3: Nutritional Needs for boys ages 4 to 18.

 

Nutrient Boys ages 4 – 8 Boys ages 9 – 13 Boys ages 14 – 18
Calories (kcal) 1200 – 2000 1600 – 2600 2000 – 3200
Protein (g) 10-30% kcal 30 – 90 g for 1200 kcal 40 – 120 g for 1600 kcal 50 – 150 g for 2000 kcal
CHO (g) 45 – 65% kcal 135 – 195 g for 1200 kcal 180 – 260 g for 1600 kcal 225 – 325 g for 2000 kcal
Fat (g) 25 35% kcal 33 – 47 g for 1200 kcal 44 – 62 g for 1600 kcal 56 – 78 g for 2000 kcal
Sodium (mg) 1200 mg per day 1500 mg per day 1500 mg per day
Fiber  (g) 17 – 25 g/day 22 – 36 g/day 28 – 45 g/day
Calcium (mg) 1000 mg/day 1300 mg/day 1300 mg/day

 

*Based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

 

Here’s an online calculator that you can use to determine your child’s calories based on gender, age and activity level.

http://pediatrics.about.com/library/bl_calorie_calc.htm

Activity Level Definitions:  

Sedentary: a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

Moderately active: a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day.

Active: a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical associated with typical day-to-day life.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHealthWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 12 grandchildren.    

 

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