• Mental Health Effects of Nutrition

    In adult populations, recent research has shown that high sugar consumption from sweet drinks/foods is related to higher incidence of depression and other common mood disorders. Meanwhile, the consumption of probiotics is related to a reduction in depressive symptoms.

    The effects of diet on mental health has been corroborated in children and adolescents with an association between low dietary quality and low mood, depression, and anxiety. One study found a bi-directional relationship in children following healthy dietary guidelines and high self-esteem, and that following healthy dietary guidelines led to less emotional problems and peer problems at follow-up.

    Source Credit: Arvidsson et al., 2017Huang, Wang, & Hu, 2016Knüppel, Shipley, Llewellyn, & Brunner, 2017, and O'Neil et al., 2014.

  • General Nutrition Guidelines 

    Recommendations from the USDA and US Department of Health and Human Services for children above the age of two are the same as recommendations for adults. 

    Use the below tool to find the recommended daily calories your child or teen should consume. Click on the "Recommended Calories" button to view a list of suggested amounts and types of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. 

  • Healthy Family Eating Strategies

  • Considerations for Children and Teens

    For Gradeschool Children:

    • Slow and consistent growth is typical for children during this period. 
    • Beyond meals, children often eat several snacks throughout the day, making healthy snack options an important consideration. 
    • Children can be especially influenced by perceptions of food. What they see being eaten on TV, by their friends, or by their family can influence their preferences and habits. 
    • Scheduling regular meal times can provide an opportunity to check-in with your child and demonstrate healthy eating behaviors. 
    • Involving your child in the process of preparing food, from grocery shopping to cooking can help children establish healthy eating habits and become more knowledgeable about their choices. 

    For Adolescents:

    • The onset of puberty requires a need for more calories. This period of time is also when children can start to pay attention to weight and body image, sometimes resulting in eating disorders. Pay attention to your child’s eating pattern and be aware of any changes. 
    • Because of the rapid growth during these years, it is important that children receive enough calcium to support bone growth. Milk and milk products are a great source of calcium. 
    • Gender may play a role in nutrition needs, with females needing more iron-rich foods and males needing slightly more protein. 
    • Have healthy snacks stored in refrigerator, so they are easily accessible when your child or teen gets hungry.
    • Consider setting aside meals as a place with no devices, providing an opportunity for connection

    For more information for teens about healthy eating and weight management, visit the National Institute of Health’s Guide for Teenagers.


    Consult your pediatrician for your child’s specific nutrition requirements.