Health and Nutrition

Children

3 little chefs

Children in Australia are generally in very good health, however high rates of childhood overweight and obesity, poor quality diets and low levels of physical activity, remain areas of concern as these issues may affect children’s health both now and later in life. Childhood is a time of growth and development so nutrition needs are particularly important during this time.

The latest research shows while children generally eat enough foods to provide them with sufficient energy and key nutrients to maintain good health many have lower than ideal intakes of fruits and vegetables, as well as having too much salt in their diets.  In addition, some are falling short of reaching the recommended intakes for calcium, phosphorus, folate and vitamins D and E. Other studies also estimate that many children have an inadequate intake of omega-3. With the exception of calcium, eggs provide useful amounts of each of these nutrients and can therefore play a useful role in meeting nutritional requirements during childhood.

The Contribution of Eggs to Children’s Diets

Eggs are an ideal food for inclusion in children’s diets as they are nutritious and provide useful amounts of folate, vitamin A, iron, zinc, iodine and omega-3s in particular. Eggs are also a good source of protein for children to support growth during this time.

Table 1 highlights key nutrients of importance to children that are found in eggs.

Table 1 Key nutrients for children that are found in eggs.

Nutrient

Amount in 2x60g eggs*

% RDI# for children

Functions

4-8 yrs

Boys

9-13 yrs

Girls

9-13 yrs

Protein

12.7g

64%

32%

36%

Needed to make cells, tissues, enzymes, hormones and antibodies

Vitamin A

239µg

60%

40%

40%

Essential for growth, immunity and eyesight development

Folate

97µg

49%

32%

32%

Needed for growth and maintenance of healthy cells

Zinc

0.5mg

13%

8%

8%

Essential for building and developing muscle tissue and internal organs and for immune function

Iron

1.7mg

16%

20%

20%

Needed for healthy blood cells,  promoting growth and for carrying oxygen around the body

Iodine

43µg

48%

36%

36%

Needed for proper mental development and for metabolism

Long chain omega-3s

114mg

207%

163%

163%

Important for infant growth and development; behaviour, attention and learning in children

# Recommended Dietary Intake

Eggs are very versatile and can be the basis of many nutritious recipes that kids will love.  They can play a particularly useful role in the diets of children who may be fussy eaters and who may refuse to eat other nutrient-rich foods.

Overall, eggs are a highly nutritious food that can play an important role in the diets of children. Eggs are recommended as part of a healthy eating pattern that also includes wholegrain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy foods, lean meat, fish and poultry and unsaturated fats.