Nutrition and Metabolism in School-Age Children

Martin FP
Pinkney J
Saavedra JM

Thise Editorial highlights middle childhood and adolescence, between 5 and 19 years of age, as a transformative period in the lifecycle. These “school-age years” bridge early life and adulthood through significant and specific physiologic, somatic, cognitive, and psychosocial bursts of change. The pubertal transition in the middle of this period marks a major point of inflection and sex-related divergence, expressed by rapid changes in body size, composition, neurocognitive functions, and body systems, including the neuroendocrine axis, cardiovascular changes, skeletal growth, and bone mineralization. It is thus a nutrition-sensitive window, where a complex interplay between genetics and environmental factors, particularly nutrition, plays a central role in defining this transformation and its long-term impact on the rest of an individual’s life. Today, this age group represents 1.8 billion individuals or one-quarter of the world’s population. However, knowledge and research on the nutritional situation of these children is grossly lacking and is the lowest of any age group. The Editorial introduces an Issue of Frontiers in Research dedicated to Nutrition and Metabolism in School-Age Children, which brings attention to some aspects of nutrition during middle childhood and adolescence, including the current situation, long-term effects and consequences, and particular methodological research challenges in studying this age group. As stated in UNICEF’s Nutrition Strategy for 2020–2030, “nutrition during middle childhood and adolescence is both a right and a window of opportunity for growth, development, and learning, particularly for girls, to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition.”

Source: Martin FP, Pinkney J, Saavedra JM (2022) Editorial: Nutrition and Metabolism in School-Age Children. Frontiers in Nutrition 9: 899126. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.899126. ISSN=2296-861X