Healthy eating is important at all stages of life. It is especially important
for the growth and development of infants, children, and adolescents. Good nutrition can prevent health
problems such as iron-deficiency anemia, obesity, eating disorders, under-nutrition, and dental caries.
Over the long term, it can help lower the risk of developing chronic disease (e.g., heart disease, certain
cancers, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis) and risk factors for disease(e.g., obesity, high blood
pressure, high blood cholesterol levels). Eating healthy foods also helps children and adolescents feel
good and do well in school.
To help children, adolescents, and families practice healthy eating behaviors and become more knowledgeable
about the types and amounts of foods needed for optimal nutrition, the federal government created the Dietary
Guidelines for Americans and My Pyramid. The Dietary Guidelines provide general nutrition principles, and the
MyPyramid shows how to select different types of foods for optimal nutrition and select different types of
physical play and physical activity. These tools can be used for children ages 2 and older and for adolescents.
Use the advice "Inside MyPyramid" to help you:
- Make smart choices from every food group,
- Find your balance between food and physical activity, and
- Get the most nutrition out of your calories.
Improving the well-being of infants, children, and adolescents requires that health professionals, families,
and communities work together to create opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity. Multifaceted,
communitywide efforts are needed to combat negative images and to demonstrate that healthy eating can be quick
and delicious and that physical activity can be fun. Using creative settings--such as classrooms, recreation
centers, athletic facilities, libraries, restaurants, and supermarkets--to deliver innovative nutrition and physical
activity education programs should be explored.