Nutrition in Children and Adolescents
This knowledge path directs readers to a selection of current, high-quality resources that present evidence-based nutrition guidance, describe public health campaigns and other promotion programs, inform policy and legislation, and report on research aimed at identifying promising strategies for improving nutrition and eating behaviors within families, schools, and communities. Health professionals, program administrators, policymakers, and researchers can use this knowledge path to learn more about child and adolescent nutrition, to improve care, for program development, and to locate training resources and information to answer specific questions. Separate briefs list resources for families and schools. This knowledge path has been developed by NCEMCH and will be updated periodically.
View Related NCEMCH Resourcesfor guides about food marketing, food safety, food security and nutrition-assistance programs, nutrition in child care, and more.
See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) resource Nutrition and the Health of Young People (2015). This resource highlights the benefits of healthy eating for children and adolescents, the consequences of a poor diet, the eating behaviors of young people, and the relationship between nutrition and academic performance.
- Adolescent Nutrition. Resources for health professionals, educators, parents and teenagers about adolescent nutrition and eating disorders. This online resource is presented by Jane Mitchell Rees, Ph.D., R.D., C.D., at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine with support from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).
- Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN): Moving to the Future. Offers a collection of tools to develop successful community programs that promote healthy eating and physical activity. Includes instructions for conducting a community assessment, writing priorities, goals and objectives, developing a nutrition and physical activity plan, and implementing and evaluating programs.
- Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP). Dietary-guidance materials and reports linking scientific research to consumers' nutrition needs. CNPP is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Resources include
Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020). Information and background materials about the federal government's evidence-based nutrition guidance to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity.
Also see the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL), which specializes in conducting systemic reviews to inform Federal nutrition policy and programs.
- Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Articles, reports, fact sheets, legal and regulatory filings, and model legislation to promote safer, more nutritious food. Focus areas are eating healthy, protecting our health and what you can do.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Nutrition. Data and statistics on nutrition, breastfeeding and micronutrient facts, surveillance systems, and state indicator reports; strategies and guidelines that states, communities and parents can take to help improve dietary quality and support healthy child development; resources and publications related to nutrition, breastfeeding and micronutrient malnutrition. Resources and initiatives include
Growth Charts. Tools and background information for plotting the growth of infants, children, and adolescents through age 20. CDC recommends that health care providers use the World Health Organization growth standards for infants and children ages 0-2 years and the CDC growth charts for children 2 years and older. Also see the set of training modules for health professionals using the pediatric growth charts in clinical and public health settings.
Healthy Communities Program. Resources and tools to help community advocates encourage people in their communities to make healthy choices at home, work, school, and other settings through sustainable changes that address the major health risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, and unhealthy eating. Nutrition topics include increasing access to locally grown fruits and vegetables and reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.
Also see CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH), Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Chronic Disease State Policy Tracking System, and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS).
- Children's Nutrition Research Center (CNRC). Research seminars, a newsletter, news articles, interactive nutrition calculators, healthy eating posters for schools, and games. CNRC is one of eight federally funded human nutrition research centers conducting scientific investigations designed to provide Americans with a clear understating of the role of nutrition in maintaining a healthy, active life The CNRC is operated by Baylor College of Medicine in cooperation with Texas Children's Hospital and the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Economic Research Service (ERS). Economic information, research, and publications on topics that include food safety and food and nutrition assistance. Also see the Food Access Research Atlas and Food Environment Atlas.
- Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC). Databases and resource lists with links to reports, policy statements, websites, listservs and blogs, and other information tools on a wide range of food and nutrition topics for nutrition and health professionals, educators, government personnel and consumers. Topics include dietary guidance, lifecycle nutrition, diet and health, food composition, weight and obesity, food safety, food labeling, dietary supplements, and nutrition-assistance programs. Resources include
Interactive DRI for Healthcare Professionals. Tool to calculate daily nutrient recommendations for dietary planning based on the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs).
- Healthy People 2020. National health-promotion and disease-prevention initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services. View the topics and objectives, leading health indicators, data search, healthy people in action, tools and resources, and webinars and events for nutrition and weight status and food safety. Use the MAP-IT (Mobilize, Assess, Plan, Implement, Track strategy to implement HP2020 locally and view your state's plan for making progress on the HP2020 objectives.
- Leadership, Education and Training (LET) Program in Maternal and Child Nutrition. Web-based curricula and training information about maternal and child health (MCH) nutrition for nutrition professionals and other health professionals who work with women, infants, children, and adolescents. Areas of specialization include maternal nutrition, child and adolescent nutrition, prevention of eating disorders, childhood obesity, school and community nutrition intervention programs, dietary assessment methods, nutritional epidemiology and factors affecting child/adolescent growth and development. LET is part of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota and is funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).
- Maternal and Child Health Training Program: Nutrition Grantees Collaborative Website. Information about university-based MCH nutrition training programs and resources, webinars, and conferences.
- PolicyLink: Healthy Food Access Portal. Resources that highlight the problem of access to healthy food in underserved communities and innovative solutions and tools for community-driven advocacy to improve access.
The databases listed below
are excellent tools for identifying data,
and programs about child and adolescent nutrition.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Nutrition, Physical Activity: Data, Trends, and Maps. Online tool for viewing data by location and by indicator (obesity/weight status; breastfeeding; fruits and vegetables; physical activity; sugar drinks; television viewing).
- Food Access Research Atlas. Map food access indicators and view census tract-level statistics on population groups with low access to healthy food. Economic Research Service (ERS).
- Food Environment Atlas. County-level statistics on food choices, health and well-being, and community
characteristics to stimulate research on the determinants of food choices and
diet quality and to analyze a community's ability to access healthy food. Economic Research Service (ERS).
- National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Nutrient information on approximately 8,000 food items. NDL also offers reports about single nutrients and the nutritive value of foods; measurement-conversion tables; and food-composition publications. Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
- Also see NCEMCH resource brief, Maternal and Child Health Data and Statistics, and, in particular, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS).
Literature and Research Databases
News and Commentary
Resources for Families
Resources for Schools
Resources for Child Care and Early Education Programs
Related NCEMCH Resources
Nutrition in Children and Adolescents: Knowledge Path, 6th ed. (September 2012). (Updated: August 2016).
Author: Susan Brune Lorenzo, M.L.S., NCEMCH; Breanne C. Wilhite, B.S.
Reviewers: Olivia Pickett, M.A., M.L.S., NCEMCH.