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Healthy Eating for Children - Topic Overview

What causes poor eating habits? continued...

If your child is healthy and eating a nutritious and varied diet, yet seems to eat very little, he or she may simply need less food energy (calories) than other children. And some children need more daily calories than others the same age or size, and they eat more than you might expect. Every child has different calorie needs.

In rare cases, a child may eat more or less than usual because of a medical condition that affects his or her appetite. If your child has a medical condition that affects how he or she eats, talk with your child's doctor about how you can help your child get the right amount of nutrition.

What are the risks of eating poorly?

A child with poor eating habits is going to be poorly nourished. That means he or she won't be getting the amounts of nutrients needed for healthy growth and development. This can lead to being underweight or overweight. Poorly nourished children tend to have weaker immune systems, which increases their chances of illness. Poor eating habits can increase a child's risk for heart disease, high blood pressure,type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol later in life.

Poor eating habits include:

  • Eating a very limited variety of foods.
  • Refusing to eat entire groups of foods, such as vegetables.
  • Eating too many foods of poor nutritional quality, such as soft drinks, chips, and doughnuts.
  • Overeating from being served large portions or being told to "clean your plate" or "finish it all up."

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about children, weight, and healthy choices:

Helping your child eat well:

Ongoing concerns and health issues:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 27, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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