Every parent knows that the child’s weight triples in 1 year (0-12months) & the height doubles in 1.5years for girls & 2 years for boys. The growth & development of an infant is very rapid in the formative years of the child. This is called the “1st Growth Spurt”. And that is exactly why a lot of emphasis is laid on holistic nutrition of the child. Most parents fret about dealing with picky babies who throw endless tantrums for every meal, thus resulting in insufficient weight/height gain. As a mother, it is extremely disheartening to see that all your infinite efforts to provide complete, good quality nutrition are going futile.
Can we reverse this? Certainly not. But, life always gives us a second chance. A second, and in many cases, THE LAST chance. In this scenario, this occurs in the 2nd growth spurt of your child’s life – during ‘adolescence’. This is the transitional phase of life from childhood to adulthood – A rapid increase in the height and weight, psychological & cognitive development. There are numerous biological changes that occur during the 2nd growth spurt (the onset of puberty): Increase in skeletal mass, changes in body composition, gain of 50% of adult weight, completion of over 80% of adolescent growth (10–15 years). There may be some variation depending on the lifestyle, physical activity, hormonal function, food & nutrition and environmental exposure.
- Onset of growth spurt in Girls: ~10 years
- Onset of growth spurt in Boys: ~ 12 years
Height and weight velocity curves in boys and girls
The 2nd growth spurt gets cosmic importance as it offers a last window of opportunity to prepare nutritionally for a healthy adult life and to cover the nutritional deficits encountered during childhood & helps in attainment of optimal growth. So how can you make up for the deficit? Is it by making your child a dumping ground of cheese burgers, chocolate truffle & aloo parathas? We are referring to the shortfall in nutrients that help in gaining muscle mass & height; AND NOT THE REDUNDANT CARBOHYDRATES & FAT. We all have read in class 6 that proteins are the building blocks of cells. Low protein intakes result in reduced or stunted growth & can create a lasting impact on the physical fitness through the rest of your life. You can in detail on secondgrowthspurt.com or lastchancetogrow.com.
So what are the nutrition requirements during the second growth spurt?
The nutrient requirements increase manifold during this phase. They are:
- Proteins: To promote the hormone Insulin like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) concentrations which aids in bone mass & growth. The requirements are at the peak for girls between 11-14 years and for boys in the 15-18 years.
- Calcium: To support bone growth
- Vitamin D: To facilitate absorption of calcium in bones
- Iron: To support blood formation and improve physical performance of child.
Role of Proteins, IGF-1 during the 2nd growth spurt:
The protein requirement doubles during this phase as compared to childhood
Did you know that the protein requirement is double in 8-15 years as compared to 4-6 years? Indian diets derive about 60% of their protein from cereals such as wheat, rice, jowar & bajra. The proteins found in these cereals are not of superior quality. Simply increasing the intake of a cereal-based diet ensures energy, but not protein intake. Since Indian diets are mainly cereal based, it is evident that the protein intake is inadequate.
How can you assimilate quality proteins through your diet? Some of the protein-rich foods are:
- Milk, cheese, yoghurt, tofu.
- Soy protein, beans, green peas, chick peas, green leafy veggies.
- High quality protein supplements
- Flesh foods, sea food.
- Quinoa, nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds & poppy seeds.
While many of us try to incorporate most of these foods in our daily diet, are we taking sufficient good quality protein in diet? According to the recent survey by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau report (India), the results were shocking:
- Only 22% of children consumed adequate protein. The remaining 78% have inadequate protein consumption.
- Only ~60% of the protein requirement comes from the cereal intake
So, the question arises – How do we bridge this gap? Or more importantly, do we really care to bridge this gap? Inevitably, every parent would definitely want only the best to their child.
You can’t force feed your child every day. Monotony in the weekly food pattern is highly condemned by kids. They always look forward to something different, something interesting. As a parent, it is difficult to overlook the eating habits. It’s the birth right of a mother to worry about her child & especially the nutrition. Isn’t it? But, worrying is certainly not the solution. Then what is?
Children often fall short of their daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vital requirements like protein, calcium & iron. Protein supplements should not be used for toddlers & infants off the shelf unless recommended by your pediatrician. You can supplements like Protinex in the form of powders or shakes to augment a healthy protein-rich diet once they are teenagers. Many health drinks contain only 7-11gms protein / 100gms. But is that good enough? So choose your health drink wisely. Good protein drinks like these have higher protein content & lesser fat. They help in building muscle & great stamina that increases the body’s endurance.
Some people do not recommend protein intake of protein supplements questioning the safety & impact on a child’s overall health. In my opinion, you should try to incorporate protein-rich foods in your child’s diet in various forms. Easier said than done, agreed. But, if you have not left any stone unturned, then it is strongly recommended to consult your child specialist & introduce good quality protein supplements from the age of 8 years. After all, the growth & development of your child largely depends on his/her intake of foods & physical activity. And, the body can match the growing needs of the adolescent body only if the INPUT is consistent.