Essential nutrients are extremely important for children and play a key role in their development to adulthood. Children who fail to get the essential nutrients they need do not reach their full height potential and do not fully develop neurologically. As a result, many children are shorter and not as smart as they could be due to the lack of essential nutrients. This condition is referred to as “hidden hunger” because these outcomes (short stature and lack of mental ability) often are not seen until children are fully grown.
Studies from the U.S. show that children who just eat regular meals don’t get all of the essential nutrients they need, and proper early childhood development does not occur. The most important thing that parents can do for their children’s diet is to provide nutrient-rich foods to support optimal growth and development. One option is to fortify foods with vitamins and minerals to prevent malnutrition and hidden hunger. However, without care in selecting which nutrients are added to foods, children may still fall short of nutrient needs.