Energy balance, a major factor in maintaining healthy weight, is the amount of energy we take in through eating food and drinking beverages compared with the amount of energy we use by being physically active. What we eat and drink is called ENERGY IN. What we use up through daily living and physical activity is called ENERGY OUT. We use a certain amount of energy just breathing air, digesting food and performing daily living activities. We use even more energy when we perform physical activities such as walking to the bus stop, running on the park grass or riding a bike. Eating the proper amount and the right types of food helps children maintain a healthy weight and keeps their energy balance at an ideal level. In other words, ENERGY IN is nicely balanced with an active lifestyle or ENERGY OUT to support natural growth and daily activity without promoting excess weight gain.
Teaching young children to count calories is not a best practice for teaching energy balance. It is not only confusing, but it can contribute to unhealthy weight and eating behaviors as they approach adolescents. Avoid conversations centered on weight. Instead, through messaging, games and fun activities, teach children the importance of both eating a balanced diet with foods they like and being physically active doing things they enjoy.