chapter  44
9 Pages

Diet and exercise

ByQuentin Spender, Judith Barnsley, Alison Davies, Jenny Murphy

Diet can make an important contribution to physical and mental health at any age. There is emerging evidence that a child’s diet may have a positive or negative influence on concentration, behaviour and achievement. Using dietary supplements of vitamins, minerals or essential fatty acids, unless done carefully, could entail the risk of having too much of some things, which may create its own problems. The healthiest path is likely to consist of eating a mixed diet with appropriate amounts of different food groups. An assessment of the child’s dietary input and exercise can be made informally by going through the child’s regular day, perhaps differentiating school days from non-school days, enquiring about what he eats for each meal and snack, and the nature of activities. A more formal assessment may involve providing structured dairies and advice about how to record periods of exercise and food eaten—which may require input from a paediatric dietician.