A sick child has no appetite and refuses to eat … This situation though psychologically sad for the relatives is generally understandable. Any adult is aware that it is temporary, that the disease is to blame. Memories from one’s own “painful” experience help to calm down: When I’m as sick, I do not want to eat too.
Completely different thoughts appear in the minds of loving parents when there’s no any sign of an illness and no appetite as well. The uncertainty scares. In fact, loss of appetite is completely physiological, i.e. normal, natural.
In order to understand this, you should know and consider factors that may influence appetite. Let’s consider these factors in details.
1. Specific characteristics of metabolism in both children and adults.
Numerous examples from everyday life are the confirmations of this factor. Johnny and Steve eat the same amount of food. Johnny is thin and Steve is thick. Skinny Mary eats a lot, and thick Lisa – a little. And not the amount of eaten food matters but the amount of assimilated one.
2. Hormone production rate.
The process of growth is not uniform. During the first year of life as well as during adolescence the more amounts of growth hormone, the thyroid and parathyroid hormones are produced, the child actively grows, appetite is increased. Growth rate depends on genetic characteristics. If Johnny’s parents are about two feet tall, then Johnny will likely eat more than Steve, whose dad is much shorter.
There are seasonal regularities: in the wintertime growth is slowed down (less hormones), in summer time – it is activated (more hormones). It is clear that the appetite is better in summer time.
3. The level of energy consumption.
Food, in fact, has two global goals: first, to provide the body with nutrients necessary for growth and proper work of the internal organs; second, to replenish energy consumed due to locomotor activity. Everything is quite obvious here – the more the child consumes energy, the better his appetite.
Parents cannot completely influence these three factors that determine appetite in a healthy child. We can affect neither the production of hormones nor the individual characteristics of metabolism. But to regulate the energy consumption is clearly within the parents’ competence. Current energy consumption is determined not only by physical activity. Maintenance of body temperature is very important: the warmer and more comfortable, the more clothing items the less energy and less appetite.
Let’s take a look (as objective as it can be) at the classic situation when parents of a healthy child are extremely worried about his decreased appetite. In most cases, the family has enough food, the child is always warm – the family has enough money to buy a coat, socks and a heater. Child goes to kindergarten or school. He visits additional classes (foreign language, music school, educational games, and so on). And he spends his free time playing computer games or watching television. And not the loss of appetite is surprising in such a situation but the fact that his parents are surprised about it!
Civilization has a very serious impact on the human health and especially the children’s one, for within the most crucial period of their life – when the internal organs are growing and developing, when their health is being formed for the whole life time – children grow in completely unnatural conditions. It’s not so much a problem of parents as a problem of the whole society: the entire school system is a system of intelligence and health opposition.
If a healthy child refuses to eat, first lifestyle should be corrected in order to activate the energy consumption. This is true for any age. Elimination of overheating, doing gymnastics, cool water, active games, prolonged exposure to fresh air – all these are equally important for 5 month olds and for 14 year olds.