A healthy, nutritious diet helps children grow and learn. It also helps prevent weight-related diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. Children need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages. They need to eat three meals daily and have healthy snacks in between. The more active your child is, the more calories he or she needs. Here are some ways to encourage your child to follow a nutritious diet:



Sodium is an essential mineral for life. It is regulated in the body by the kidneys. It helps control the body’s fluid balance, affects muscle function and helps send nerve impulses. An Australian study showed the brain responds to sodium in the same way it responds to substances such as cocaine and heroin, which may explain why we tend to overindulge in high-sodium foods.



A balanced healthy diet should contain a variety of nutritious foods and sufficient vitamins and minerals. Such a diet can help you maintain a healthy body weight and reduce your risk of many diet-related problems, such type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. It’s recommended men have around 2,500 calories a day and women 2,000 calories a day. Studies indicate eating a typical Western diet filled with packaged meals, takeout foods, processed meats and sugary snacks may lead to stress, high rates of depression....


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of bone density is a bone mineral density (BMD) test. It can identify osteoporosis, determine your risk for fractures and measure your response to osteoporosis treatment. The most widely recognized bone mineral density test is called a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry or DXA test. Although no bone density test is 100 percent accurate, the DXA test is the single most important predictor of whether a person is likely to have a fracture in the future.

The DXA test is painless and much like having an X-ray. It measures bone mineral density and compares it to that of an established norm or standard – the ideal or peak bone mineral density of a healthy adult – to yield a meaningful score. This results in a T-score. A score of 0 means your BMD is equal to the norm for a healthy young adult. Differences between your BMD and that of the healthy young adult norm are measured in units called standard deviations (SDs). More standard deviations below 0 are indicated as negative numbers. Thus, the lower your BMD, the higher your risk of fracture.

A family history of poor bone health or frequent fractures earlier in life can be indicators you are at risk for bone problems, so you should discuss your bone health with your primary care physician. As we age, being aware of bone density and understanding osteopenia can be important steps in preventing serious problems related to bone health. WebMD provides a good summary on this

Americans must develop a better awareness of bone health and wellness. The National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and National Resource Center (2015) suggests by 2020 half of all Americans over age 50 will have weak bones unless people make changes to their diets and lifestyle.

People who have weak bones are at higher risk for fractures. With scientific and technological advances, people are living longer, and this means their bones need to stay strong so they can be active and enjoy life as they age. Strong bones begin in childhood. With good habits and medical attention when needed, people can have strong bones throughout their lives.

Osteopenia indicates a state of relatively low bone mass when compared to recognized scientific standards. Regardless of your age, you could have osteopenia if you never developed a high peak bone mass as a youth or because you naturally have bones that are less dense than average. Recent research (2015) suggests a large percentage of individuals in the United States have a bone density that is considered low and they could therefore be classified as having osteopenia. Bone-related injuries in childhood or adolescence can be another indicator of weak bones. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (, some 21.8 million American women and another 11.8 million men have osteopenia. Each year 1.5 million older people in this


country suffer fractures because their bones have weakened.

It is important to realize low bone density is one of the risk factors for osteoporotic fracture, but having osteopenia does not mean bone fractures are likely to occur. Some studies report almost half of those who have bone fractures do not necessarily have excessively low bone mass. Thus bone mass alone does not always result in fractures.

A few decades ago, little was known about bone disease. Many physicians believed weak and broken bones were just part of old age and could not be avoided. Today, however, we know this is not true. In the past decade (in 2012), the Surgeon General has focused increased attention on bone health. The directives have emphasized that the keys to improving bone health include diet, exercise and prevention interventions. Physicians have been encouraged to pay closer attention to patients in midlife who have osteoporosis or another bone disease and initiate treatment earlier. This can help reduce or prevent bone-related injuries and painful fractures.

Bone density is critically important for healthy bone structure. The best measure of


Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by Dr thomas w. miller