Position Paper on RDA for Protein for Children

  • R. P. Abernathy
  • S. J. Ritchey
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 105)


The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) by the National Academy of Sciences are revised approximately every five years. The RDA are compromise opinions of highly qualified nutritional scientists based on interpretations of available data. As with any interpretations and opinions not founded on definitive information, they are subject to challenges. The RDA for protein for 7- to 9-year-old children have been adjusted downward from 60 g in 1958 to 36 g in 1974, a 40% reduction. Data from our laboratories have shown positive apparent nitrogen balances on intakes as low as 18 g daily when no allowances were made for integumental and other nitrogen losses, however, based on accumulative data over several years we calculate the protein requirement to be 45 g daily from a typical American diet. If a safety factor of 30% is added the allowance would become 58.5 g. Currently the RDA for protein for the 7- to 10-year-old child supplies 6% of the RDA for Calories which contrasts to 8.30 and 9.20% for adult males and females, respectively. For comparison, energy from protein as a percentage of total energy for some common foods are: white bread, 12%; corn meal 10%; white rice 7%; and wheat flour 13%.


Nitrogen Balance Protein Requirement Recommended Dietary Allowance White Bread Nitrogen Retention 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abernathy, R.P., Speirs, M., Engel, R.W. and Moore, M.E. (1966). Effect of several levels of dietary amino acids and amino acids on nitrogen balance in preadolescent girls. Am. J. Clin. Nutrition, 19, 407–414.Google Scholar
  2. Abernathy, R.P., Ritchey, S.J., Korslund, M.K., Gorman, J.C. and Price, N.O. (1970). Nitrogen balance studies with children fed foods representing diets of low-income southern families. Am. J. Clin. Nutrition, 23, 408–412.Google Scholar
  3. Abernathy, R.P., Ritchey, S.J. and Gorman, J.C. (1972). Lack of response to amino acid supplements by preadolescent girls. Am. J. Clin. Nutrition, 25, 980–982.Google Scholar
  4. Abernathy, R.P. and Ritchey, S.J. (1972). Protein requirements of preadolescent girls. J. Home Econ., 64, 56–58.Google Scholar
  5. FAO/WHO. (1973). Energy and protein requirements. WHO Report Series No. 522, Geneva; FAO Nutrition Meetings Report Series No. 52, Rome.Google Scholar
  6. Howat, P.M., Korslund, M., Abernathy, R.P. and Ritchey, S.J. (1977). Sweat nitrogen losses by and nitrogen balance of preadolescent girls consuming three levels of dietary protein. Am. J. Clin. Nutrition, 28, 879–882.Google Scholar
  7. Irwin, M.I. and Hegsted, D.M. (1971). A conspectus of research on protein requirements of man. J. Nutrition, 101, 385–430.Google Scholar
  8. Korslund, M.K., Leung, E.Y., Meiners, C.R., Crews, M.G., Taper, J., Abernathy, R.P. and Ritchey, S.J. (1976). The effect of sweat nitrogen losses in evaluating protein utilization by preadolescent children. Am. J. Clin. Nutrition, 29, 600–603.Google Scholar
  9. Macy, I.G. (1946). Nutrition and chemical growth in childhood. Vol. II, Original data. Charles C. Thomas. Springfield, Illinois.Google Scholar
  10. Meiners, C.R., Taper, L.J., Korslund, M.R. and Ritchey, S.J. (1977). The relationship of zinc to protein utilization in the preadolescent child. Am. J. Clin. Nutrition, 30, 879–882.Google Scholar
  11. Luyken, R. and Luyken-Koning, F.W.M. (1960). Studies on the physiology of nutrition in Surinam. IV. Nitrogen balance studies. Trop. Georgr. Med., 12, 303–307.Google Scholar
  12. National Research Council, (1958). Recommended Dietary Allowances, 5th ed. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  13. National Research Council (1968). Recommended Dietary Allowances, 7th ed. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  14. National Research Council (1974). Recommended Dietary Allowances, 8th ed. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  15. Spence, M.R., Abernathy, R.P. and Ritchey, S.J. (1972). Excretion of nitrogen in sweat by preadolescent girls consuming low protein diets. Am. J. Clin. Nutrition, 25, 275–278.Google Scholar
  16. Sterns, G., Newman, K.J., McKinley, J.B. and Jeans, P.C. (1958). The protein requirements of children from one to ten years of age. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 69, 857–868.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Swaminathan, M. (1970). Protein requirements - a critical evaluation of the FAO/WHO expert group recommendations. Nutrition Rpts. Intern. 2., 153–171.Google Scholar
  18. Swaminathan, M. (1971). A note on the factorial method for calculating protein requirements for human subjects. Nutrition Repts. Intern., 3, 277–281.Google Scholar
  19. Swaminathan, M. and Parpia, H.A. (1971). Human calorie and protein requirements. Nutrition Rpts. Intern., 3, 327–349.Google Scholar
  20. Ziegler, E.E., O’Donnell, A.M., Stearns, G., Nelson, S.E., Burmeister, L.F. and Fomon, S.J. (1977). Nitrogen balance studies with normal children. Am. J. Clin. Nutrition, 30, 939–946.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. P. Abernathy
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. J. Ritchey
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Purdue UniversityW. LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.VPI & SUBlacksburgUSA

Personalised recommendations