Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health

Children's diet

General Information

Currently there is no dietary recommendation of global utility available for children and adolescents.

However, individuals and populations are advised to:

  • increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts;
  • limit the energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats;
  • limit the intake of sugars.

Reasons to promote a healthy nutrition

  • Healthy nutrition strengthens the learning potential and well-being of children and adolescents.
  • Healthy nutrition contributes to decreasing the risk of today's leading health problems in children and adolescents (including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and eating disorders).
  • Healthy nutrition in early life enables healthy adulthood and ageing.

Specific information

Improving the nutrition of women and girls is also important to prevent childhood obesity. The maternal nutritional status before and during pregnancy affects the unborn baby and appears to be linked with a higher risk of obesity in later life. Children born with a small size at birth show a tendency to put on more weight during the puberty growth spurt than those of normal size at birth.

Low- and middle-income countries are advised to give special attention to the avoidance of overfeeding deprived population groups. In countries in economic transition, there is a need to maintain the healthy components of traditional diets (e.g. high intake of vegetables, fruits and non-starch polysaccharides), as populations become more sedentary and able to access energy-dense foods.

Educational interventions should stress that overweight and obesity do not represent good health, particularly when targeting mothers and communities of low socio-economic status.

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