What does this app do?

 

This app gives parents information on the nutritional value of their children’s meals and eating habits, including those that are homemade, store-bought, or a combination of the two. The app also provides reports based on the above, and recipe recommendations.  Parents simply need to scan the barcode on the food packing or manually type in a description of the food.

Where can I download this app?

 

The app was beta tested with fellow parents and medical professions. It's available on Apple store.

 

What exactly is a food label?
 

Most pre-packaged foods have a nutrition label on the back or side of the packaging and are calculated for adults. These labels include information on energy in kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal), usually referred to as calories. They also include information on fat, saturates (saturated fat), carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt. As well as a list of ingredients and allergy information. All nutritional information is provided per 100 grams and sometimes per portion of the food.

 

How do you know if my child is eating enough?

 

If a child’s energy requirements are being met from a varied diet that includes foods from each of the food groups, his/her requirements for all nutrients should be met in full, other than for vitamin D for which supplements are recommended.

If a child consumes an appropriate amount of calories, this does not necessarily result in a diet that is nutritionally adequate if those calories are from nutritionally poor food sources or from only a few foods. The food group recommendations have been designed such that if a child is eating to appetite (eating till they are full)from the food groups, their nutritional requirements, other than for vitamin D, should be met in full.

 

How will the app calculate this?

 

The app will draw on information from the estimated average requirements (EAR) for energy for children, based on the 2011 SACN report as a guide. However, it must be remembered that these are intended for population use and not for the individual child. For certain age groups and types of food, there are no set guidelines. For example, there is no guideline for sugar consumption in children 3 and under. In cases such as this, the app will suggest parents give their children as little of this food type as possible and will display the recommended amount as 0.

 

Children’s calories should ideally be spread out between the food groups. This formula will allow the app to estimate the amount, of calories the child needs per day. Keep in mind that the energy requirements will vary according to the activity level of the child and also the size of the child, for example, smaller children would require less.

 

You can use a child’s body weight, height and activity level to get a more individualised estimate of their daily calorie needs. For example, if a 2-year-old boy or girl weighs 9.0kg/19lbs and is 74cm/29 inches and is physically active for at least 3 hours a day, they will need around 765 and 717 calories respectively per day, depending on their activity level; the more active a child is, the more calories they’ll need.


 

How old must my be child be to use this app?

 

To create a profile for our child they must be at least 12 months old. This is because there are very little guidelines for the under children younger than this. Currently, the recommendations go up to 6 years old. Parents will be able to create profiles for older children in the future.

 

Should I weigh my child's food?

 

You may wish to weigh certain foods to be sure your food diary is as accurate as possible. Humans aren't very good at estimating serving sizes, though we think we are (I’ve been guilty of this) You won’t need to do this for every meal every day. Most serving suggestions are based on adults so use the guidelines listed below and within the app.

If you have brought something that is a single serving or pre-packaged, it will most likely have a barcode. The weight and nutritional information will auto-populate once you've used the scanning or the search function in the app.


 

What portion size is appropriate for my child?

 

Children should include foods from each of the four food groups each day.

THESE SUGGESTED PORTION SIZES ARE FOR TODDLERS 1-4 YEARS OF AGE. FOR OLDER CHILDREN UP TO 6 YEARS THIS INFORMATION WILL BE UPLOADED SHORTLY.

 

1 Starchy Foods

This group contains starchy foods such as pasta, rice, oats, potatoes, noodles, yam, green bananas, sweet potato, millet, couscous, bread, breakfast cereals, barley and rye.

Starchy foods provide energy, calcium and B vitamins. Wholegrain provides lots of fibre to help keep the digestive system healthy. Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with iron and vitamins. A healthy diet would include 4-5 servings of starchy foods a day.

These portions should be spread throughout the day and be eaten with every meal, including snacks.

 

One portion of starchy foods:

  • ½ - 1 slice of bread

  • ¼ - ½ pitta bread

  • 3-6 tablespoons breakfast cereal or porridge

  • 2 – 5 tablespoons of cooked pasta, rice, millet or couscous

  • ¼ - ½ bagel

  • 1-2 oatcakes or rice cakes

  • ½ - 1 chapati

  • 1-3 tablespoons mashed potato

  • 1-2 breadsticks

  • ½ - 1 scotch pancake

  • ¼ - ½ medium jacket potato

 

2 Protein Foods

This group contains meat, fish, and eggs as well as vegetable sources of protein such as nuts (ground nuts or nut butter), beans, peas, lentils, Quorn and soya. These foods give us protein, iron and some other minerals and vitamins. This helps the body to grow and repair itself. They are like building blocks for the body. Meat is a good source of iron. We should eat 2-3 servings of these every day.

 

One portion of meat or vegetable protein foods:

  • ½ - 1 slice chicken breast or turkey or beef or pork

  • ½ - 1 chicken drumstick

  • ½ - 1 fishcake

  • 1-3 small meatballs

  • 2-4 tablespoons lentils or baked beans or chickpeas or dhal or kidney beans

  • 2-4 tablespoons tofu

  • 1-2 tablespoons ground nuts

  • 2-4 tablespoons cooked minced meat

  • 1-2 fish fingers

  • 1-2 tablespoons hummus

  • ½ - 2 tablespoons prawns

  • 2-3 tablespoons scrambled egg

  • ½ - 1 fried or boiled egg

  • ½ - 1 small fillet of white/oily fish

  • Nut butter spread on a slice of bread

 

3 Dairy Foods

This group contains milk, yoghurt, fromage frais, milkshakes, cheese – both hard cheese and soft cheese including soft cheese triangles. These foods contain protein, calcium and some vitamins like vitamin B12, vitamin A and vitamin D. Dairy products keep your bones and teeth healthy. The body absorbs the calcium in dairy foods easily. We should try and eat three servings of these a day.

 

One portion of milk and dairy products:

  • 100ml – 120ml cow’s milk or calcium-fortified soya milk*

  • 1 pot of yoghurt (125g)

  • 1 - 2 small pots fromage frais.

  • 1 cheese triangle

  • 1 cheese ball eg. Babybel

  • 2 – 4 tablespoons grated cheese

  • 2 – 5 tablespoons rice pudding

  • 5 – 7 tablespoons custard

 

*Please note: if using an alternative plant-based drinks for your child (eg. oat/coconut/nut/hemp) - these drinks are much lower in calories and protein than cow’s milk and soya milk. In addition, not all of these plant-based drinks are fortified with calcium and vitamins. Speak with your HCP before starting your child on one of these drinks as a replacement for milk and other dairy products.

 

4 Fruit and Vegetables

This group includes fresh as well as frozen, tinned, dried and juices of fruits and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that help to keep your child healthy. It is important to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. This way you get the whole range of all the important nutrients these foods give. You should “eat a rainbow” i.e. different coloured fruit and vegetables, at least five portions a day

 

One portion of fruit and vegetables:

  • ¼ - ½ medium apple, orange, pear, peach or similar sized fruit

  • ¼ - 1 medium banana

  • 150ml of juice diluted with water

  • ½ - 1 smaller fruit such as plums, satsumas, kiwi fruit, apricot

  • 3 – 8  grapes, cherries or berries

  • ½ - 2 tablespoons of dried fruits such as raisins, prunes or apricots

  • ½ - 2 tablespoons cooked broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, peas, spinach, beans, roasted vegetables

  • ½ - 2 tablespoons sweet potato

 

5 FATS

Your toddler needs some fat in their diet from foods such as full-fat dairy products, oily fish, spreads and some vegetable oils such as rapeseed and olive oil. However, try to limit high fat foods such as cakes, biscuits and fried foods as they are usually low in other nutrients

 

My child seems to eat very little but is full of energy

 

Smaller children generally have smaller appetites than larger children to meet their lower energy requirements, and an energetic child will need more food than a less active child. Children are able to regulate their food intake to meet their energy requirements for physical activity and for normal growth and development. If parents regularly offer larger portion sizes than their child requires, their child’s attempts at appetite regulation may be overridden.

 

The app will draw on published data on portion sizes among children in the UK [1], allowing parents to see what an average portion size is and the range of portion sizes from small to large for their child’s age. Their child may need to eat more or less than the average, and while the app would not suggest that there is an ideal portion size for a given age/weight/height/physical activity, it may be useful for parents to be able to see what is typical. This may be particularly useful for those parents who offer large portions of food that are routinely left uneaten. Parents would be encouraged to offer their children appropriate portion sizes of foods from the food groups, and to allow their child to eat until his/her appetite is satisfied.

 

The nutritional value of foods and drinks consumed will be calculated from databases that draw on published data on the composition of foods and on manufacturers’ data.

 

Can I use this app to help my child lose weight?

 

No.

 

We do not recommend putting children on a diet unless advised and closely monitored by a medical professional.

 

Children regulate their intakes over many days rather than on a day-to-day basis. For this reason, children may have days when they eat really well and others when they eat very little. This can understandably be frustrating and confusing to parents. The app will encourage users to record food intakes over several days rather than a single day to take account for day-to-day fluctuations in appetites.

 

Parents should consult a health professional if they notice a change in their child’s diet or if they are concerned. Or if the child puts on or loses a large amount of weight in a short period of time i.e. a few weeks or less.


 


 

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United Kingdom