What is this article about?
Childhood is a critical time in the growth and development of a person, and it is a key stage in the establishment of their physical and mental abilities. There is therefore considerable scientific interest in determining a child’s optimal dietary requirements that will enhance and assist this growth and development. This includes factors such as the quantity, quality, timing and nutrient components of every meal. Physical maturation follows the same course for all children, although rates will differ between individuals. Post-natal growth spans three age periods: infancy, which is the first year of life; childhood, which extends from infancy to around 10 years of age; and adolescence, which is defined as between 10 and 18 years of age. Across all developmental stages, changes in body proportions and the mastering of fundamental motor skills are all part of biological maturation. These are also very sensitive to the nutritional status of the individual.