7 to 10 year olds

Good nutrition is important for energy and continual growth and development.

Good eating habits should be in place for when your child has opportunities to make their own decisions on what to choose when at school, home or eating out.

Involve your child with shopping, making shopping lists, putting food away in the fridge and cupboards, preparing meals using different ingredients and, if possible, eat together as a family.

There is a marked increase in requirements for energy and protein at this age because they are growing quickly and becoming more active. Providing a healthy, well-balanced, varied diet is very important.

What your 7-10 year old needs

Daily energy and nutrient requirements for 7 to 10 year olds:

  Energy (EAR)* Protein (RNI)** Calcium (RNI)** Iron (RNI)** Total Fat Sat Fat Salt
Boys 1970 calories 28.3g 550mg 8.7mg 76.6g 24.1g 5g
Girls 1740 calories 28.3g 550mg 8.7mg 67.7g 21.3g 5g

*EAR - Estimated Average Requirement
**RNI - Reference Nutrient Intake

Taken from the Government's Committee on the Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) Report 41.


Energy is provided from the diet by starchy carbohydrates, fats and protein. Serve starchy carbohydrate foods such as bread, rice, pasta, cereals, yams, chapattis, potatoes, and sweet potatoes at each mealtime to satisfy hungry appetites. As a guide around a third of your child's diet should be starchy carbohydrate foods – try to include brown and wholemeal varieties for added fibre.

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We all need some fat in our diet as it makes food palatable. It provides essential fatty acids (EFAs) necessary for healthy skin and nerve function and is a concentrated form of energy for growing children. It is the amount and type of fat that needs to be controlled.

Foods high in saturated fat such as butter, cream, pastries, cakes, fatty meats and meat products, fast foods, biscuits and confectionery should be limited to treats. Fat in the diet should be provided from milk, low fat yogurts, lean meat, oil rich fish, cooking oils, margarine and reduced fat spreads labelled high in monounsaturates or polyunsaturates.


Protein is needed for growth and requirements are high for this age group. The main sources of protein are from meat, fish, poultry, dairy products and eggs. Try to include some protein at each mealtime. Also try to give at least two portions of fish per week - one should be oily such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or pilchards to provide essential omega 3 fats.

Other useful sources of protein, particularly for children following a vegetarian or vegan diet, include pulses, beans, lentils, bread, soya and soya products, nuts and seeds. Particular attention should be paid to ensuring a vegan diet has enough protein.

Top tips for meal ideas

  • Chicken with pasta
  • Beef with stir-fried noodles
  • Scrambled egg on toast
  • Salmon or tinned tuna sandwiches
  • Desserts and breakfast cereals served with yogurt
  • Also include semi-skimmed or skimmed milk as a drink during the day

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Calcium is an important mineral for children to ensure continual growth of the skeleton and strong bones and teeth. Calcium is provided from the diet mainly by milk and dairy products. The Dairy Council recommends that 3 servings of dairy foods are consumed each day, eg a 200ml glass of semi-skimmed milk, a small pot of yogurt and a matchbox sized piece of cheese.

Children following a vegetarian diet should meet all their calcium requirements, if milk, milk products and dairy foods are included frequently in the diet. Children who follow a vegan diet will find it more difficult to meet calcium requirements. It is, therefore, important to include the following useful sources of protein: soya bean products, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, white bread, sesame seeds, dried fruit and foods fortified with extra calcium such as soya milk and breakfast cereals.

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D works with calcium to make bones stronger. Most of the vitamin D we need is made in the body from the action of sunlight on our skin. Dietary sources of vitamin D come from oily fish, eggs and fortified margarines.


Iron is necessary for healthy blood and a lack of iron can lead to iron deficiency anaemia. Iron deficiency anaemia is associated with frequent infections, tiredness, poor growth, poor weight gain and low moods.

Meat, especially red meat, and oily fish are the best sources of iron in the diet. Children following vegetarian and vegan diets need to eat a plentiful supply of iron-rich foods. Beans and lentils, whole grain cereals, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and watercress, dried fruit, sunflower seeds and fortified breakfast cereals are all good sources. However, iron from plant foods is not absorbed as well as it is from animal sources.

Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron from foods so serve plenty of fruit and vegetables at mealtimes. A glass of diluted fruit juice is also another good way of providing vitamin C with meals.

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Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are vitally important for growing children to provide a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. You should aim for five portions of fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruit and vegetables per day. Try to encourage your child to 'eat a rainbow' of colours to provide all the vital nutrients that can protect their health. Potatoes do not count towards five-a-day, and fruit juice only counts as one portion, regardless of how many glasses are drunk in one day. Try adding vegetables to soups, casseroles, pasta, pizzas and other savoury dishes. Salad can be added as a filling for sandwiches and fruit can be enjoyed with yogurt, breakfast cereals or as a snack.

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Children between the ages of seven and 10 years should have no more than 5g of salt per day. Sodium occurs naturally in many foods and there is no need to add extra salt try using herbs, pepper, garlic and spices instead.

Salt is often present in large amounts in processed food so read labels carefully and limit snack foods that are high in salt such as crisps.


Sugars occur naturally in fruits and vegetables and in milk. Foods that are high in added sugars such as biscuits, cakes, chocolate, sweets and other confectionery should be limited and only be eaten occasionally at mealtimes. Eating sugary foods frequently between meals can cause dental decay. All children should be encouraged to brush their teeth regularly.

Fruit juices can provide important vitamin C but they are high in natural sugars so serve them diluted. Encourage your child to drink milk and water in between meals and avoid fizzy drinks and those high in added sugars.

For more information

For further advice visit the Government's Eat Well website
www.eatwell.gov.uk (This link opens a new window).

For details of The Dairy Council’s school milk campaign go to www.milk.co.uk (This link opens a new window).

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