Calories, Appetite and Weight
People need different amounts of calories at different times in their lives.
- Most women and older adults need about 1,600 calories.
- Kids, teenage girls, active women and men need about 2,200 calories.
- Teenage boys and active men need about 2,800 calories.
Appetites and Eating
How much children eat can vary tremendously as they grow. Growth bursts can make a huge difference. A child can suddenly start eating an extra meal a day and need that much to get through a growth spurt.
Not eating can be a temporary stage for a child or can be a sign of illness or a serious condition.
Children, like adults, can use food as an emotional substitute, eating a lot to make themselves feel good while causing just the opposite in the end. If you feel your child is eating too much out of an emotional need, you might consult your doctor about a diet and exercise plan.
If your child is not eating, particularly an adolescent girl, watch for signs of more serious problems like anorexia nervosa, which is a refusal to eat. It can start with regular dieting but goes too far when people think that they are fat even though they are quite thin. They may even go on food binges and then force themselves to vomit. Some take large amounts of laxatives. Other signs include pretending to eat food and throwing it away or cooking for people and then not eating. The binging and purging condition is called bulimia. Long-term damage can be done to the bodies and systems of anorexic or bulimic children. People with these conditions should see a doctor immediately.
How much should your child weigh depends on the height and size of the child. Check with your doctor, who will be keeping a chart of your child’s growth pattern. Remember that they are ranges and your child can vary from that range at various times.