Many children are overweight and undernourished — missing out on important nutrients they need for growth and good health. While many children are consuming more calories than they need, they aren’t getting enough nutrient-rich foods such as low-fat and fat-free dairy, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Dairy foods provide nine essential nutrients that help improve children’s overall diet and health. Plus, milk is the #1 source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium– three nutrients that both kids and adults are not getting enough of!
Essential for good health
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize the importance of dairy in a healthy diet and call for children to increase consumption of low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products to the recommended daily amounts:
- Ages 9 years and older: 3 cups (3—8 ounce servings)
- Ages 4-8 years: 2.5 cups (2.5– 8 ounce servings)
- Ages 2-3 years: 2 cups (2– 8 ounce servings)
The Dietary Guidelines also note that it is “especially important to establish the habit of drinking milk in young children, as those who consume milk at an early age are more likely to do so as adults.” This has lifelong benefits because research shows consuming milk and milk products is linked to improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents. Milk, flavored or unflavored, plays a vital role in helping children meet needs for critical nutrients of concern as identified in the Dietary Guidelines.
This section contains science-based resources and some fun activities to help teach children and their families about the role of nutrient-rich dairy foods in improving child nutrition.
For information about Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program from New England Dairy & Food Council, the National Dairy Council and the National Football League, in cooperation with USDA, that empowers youth to improve nutrition and physical activity at their school and for their own health, please visit the Fuel Up to Play 60 section of our website.
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