Effects of poor diet in children

Every mother has said, "Eat your vegetables," to her child at some point. As it turns out, mom was right.

Without eating vegetables, along with the proper amounts of protein, dairy, carbohydrates, and good fats, children may face a number of problems, including stunted growth, poor academic performance, susceptibility to disease and disrupted sleep patterns. Severe deficiencies can even cause death. If your child is a picky eater, make sure that he makes up for the lack of nutrients with vitamins or enriched juices, or you could be facing major problems in the future.


Nutrition certainly effects a child's physical health, but did you know that it can also effect your child's behaviour as well? Studies show that a poor diet may be associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), due to the preservatives, sugars and lack of thiamine found in many junk foods. Lack of proper nutrients can also affect a child in the opposite way. Without enough carbohydrates, proteins and good fats, a child may become lethargic and irritable.


The link between nutrition and intelligence has been studied since the 1980s. In 1984, one study found that children who took a micronutrient supplement had increased IQ scores, and other studies later confirmed these findings. In terms of cognitive ability, children who eat a healthy diet will be better able to concentrate during school, which means that they can take full advantage of their intelligence potential.


Children with poor diets typically have poor dental health when compared to children who eat healthy diets. The main problem with a poor diet in regards to teeth is the amount of refined sugar in junk food. Sugars feed the bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities. In addition, processed foods and soft drinks usually have a lot of dyes in them, which can lead to staining.

Vitamin Deficiency Problems

Vitamin deficiency can especially be a problem in children, as lack of specific nutrients could cause serious and irreversible health problems in children. Remember, children are affected more quickly than adults because their bodies are smaller and they are still growing. Lack of B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxne and cyanocobalamin) can cause health problems like leg pains, ulcers, nausea, breathing problems and weakness. Vitamin C is another important nutrient for children, though most can get the Vitamin C they need pretty easily through foods and exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely dangerous for children, because it can cause bowed legs, spine deformities and other growth problems. With a picky eater, parents can use a multivitamin made for kids as a supplement to prevent problems.


Most parents know that obesity is not a good thing in children. With a poor diet, weight can be a problem, even if your child is fairly active. The key here is to replace bad fats and sugars, such as those found in soda, chips, sweets and other junk foods with good fats, such as those found in olive oil, fruit and potatoes. Obesity can cause diabetes, trouble sleeping, high blood pressure and breathing problems, as well as problems that last into adulthood.

Other Problems

Depending on the eating problems your child has, you might see other health issues as well. For example, a child who does not get enough calcium will develop rickets and a child who lacks protein may be weak or have stunted growth. Remember, with children, consistency is important. Suddenly removing or adding foods in high amounts can cause digestive problems, sleep trouble and mood changes. Don't make drastic changes. Instead, slowly introduce healthy foods into your child's diet, replacing poor food choices.