When it comes to dietary needs, children are not miniature adults. A growing recognition of these age differences in dietary needs is why many health professionals and nutrition-related organizations recommend that the slated Year 2000 revisions of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans include age-specific guidelines for children, as well as for adults at the other end of the age spectrum.
The influential guidelines are the cornerstone of federal nutrition programs including Food Stamps and National School Lunches and are used widely by health professionals and the general public.
An article in the October issue of the American Society for Nutritional Sciences Journal of Nutrition reviews key recommendations on dietary guidance targeting children from a dozen organizations, panels, workshops, and surveys during the past six years. Nutrition researchers Susan M. Groziak and Gregory D. Miller, of the National Diary Council, say the conclusions are virtually identical. All support the development of separate guidelines to be based on sound scientific evidence of safety and efficacy for children, not from the results of research with adults, which are then extrapolated to children.
"thats the way the u.s. department of agriculture and the department of health and human services (authors of the guidelines) appear to be headed," says Dr. Miller. "theyre following the growing scientific evidence that diets that help maintain health and prevent disease in a full-grown adult may not be adequate to achieve a childs genetic potential for growth and development."
Revised every five years to reflect current nutrition knowledge, the federal dietary guidelines remained one size fits all, lumping nutritional advice for two-year-olds with that for adults of all ages, until 1995. The guidelines now in effect were the first to suggest very young children had different dietary needs.
Rather than insist that
Contact: Gregory Miller
American Society for Clinical Nutrition/American Society for Nutritional Sciences