Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Children and Young People

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Food and nutrition guidance for children and young people is aimed at ensuring optimal growth and preventing nutritional deficiencies. It aims to promote health, while also preventing obesity and diet-related chronic diseases. Topics designed to achieve these goals are included in this paper.

In recognition of changing nutritional concerns for children and young people and the strong influence of environmental factors on food choice, some topics included are additional to those in previous editions of the guidelines for healthy children (aged
2–12 years) (1997) and healthy adolescents (1998). For example, new sections outline considerations for selected population subgroups, the influence of social, economic and other environmental factors on food choice, and related topics such as oral health.

A ‘Summary’ box is included at the beginning of most parts and major sections, which brings together the key points made in the part or section. Where appropriate these ‘Summary’ boxes also contain practice points for health practitioners, which are specific to the topics discussed.

Part 1: New Zealand Food and Nutrition Guidelines presents the guideline statements that set out the key food, nutrition and physical activity recommendations for healthy children and young people. This part also outlines the four food groups and recommended number of servings.

Part 2: Meal Patterns of New Zealand Children and Young People presents information from New Zealand based studies illustrating the current meal patterns of children and young people along with recommendations for ideal meal patterns.

Part 3: Growth and Body Size provides information on growth, assessment of growth using growth charts, and current body size of New Zealand children, along with an overview of overweight, obesity and underweight.

Part 4: Energy and Nutrients includes information on the function of key nutrients, recommended levels of intake, current levels of intake, nutrient status (where possible) and sources in the diet.

Part 5: Fluids provides information on the function of fluids, recommended intake, current fluid consumption patterns and sources in the diet.

Part 6: The Home Environment and Its Influence on What Children and Young People Eat provides information on how family/whānau and related sociocultural and economic factors influence eating, including food and nutrient intake.

Part 7: The Wider Environment and Its Influence on What Families and Individuals Eat provides information on the impact of the social, cultural and economic environment beyond the family and whānau. It focuses particularly on the food environment and how it influences the purchase and consumption of food, including food access and availability, food price, portion size, food marketing, and the nature of food in schools.

Part 8: Physical Activity provides information on the benefits of physical activity, recommendations for physical activity and screen time, and an overview of current physical activity and sedentary behaviour patterns. It also sets out strategies for increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour.

Part 9: Considerations for tamariki and rangatahi Māori and their whānau provides information on the Māori view of health, illness and kai, broader determinants of health, and current nutrition-related issues. Its aim is to enhance the cultural competence of health practitioners working with Māori.

Part 10: Considerations for Pacific children, young people and their families provides information on Pacific concepts of health, traditional foods, broader determinants of health, and current nutrition issues. Its aim is to enhance the cultural competence of health practitioners working with Pacific peoples.

Part 11: Considerations for Asian and other populations provides demographic information and a summary of nutrition and health issues for this diverse population group, which includes refugee and migrant population.

Part 12: Special Dietary Considerations provides information on vegetarian and vegan diets, food-related choking in young children, food allergy and intolerance, and pregnancy and breastfeeding for young women. Problems with eating such as picky eating, including neophobia (the rejection of new or unknown foods), are also discussed.

Part 13: Other Issues provides information on a range of topics related to nutrition, including body image, disordered eating and eating disorders; dietary supplements; oral health; alcohol; food safety; food additives; intense (artificial) sweeteners and caffeine.

This background paper concludes with a glossary, list of abbreviations, appendices and list of references cited.

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