Proper nutrition is extremely important in any fitness program. When a vital nutrient is missing from a child's diet, the results can be devastating. Many of our active youths are vitamin deficient, which is often demonstrated by serious fatigue. This may not surface in normal clinical testing, but can be seen in the form of low body iron content (anemia).

Your child's nutrition (at any age) has a tremendous impact on his physical growth, emotional development, and performance. I strongly believe that when a child undertakes a fitness program while lacking a few nutrients in his training diet, it can make the difference between sickness and health.

Where do we start? The first and most important is the morning breakfast. Children need a high-quality breakfast to start the day. During the seven or more sleeping hours the body is fasting. Therefore, your body needs a nutritional boost to get stared in the morning. Those that skip or limit adequate nourishment will start the day at a disadvantage. A nutritious lunch will not make up for the missed nutritional aspects of breakfast.

The body requires good nutrition all day to function at its peak. Children with inadequate nutrition will fatigue earlier in the day, thus performing at a lower level in school. They will also find fitness programs difficult to endure.

On the other hand, those children that are nutritionally healthy and on a proper fitness program of vigorous physical activity will have the energy to participate in a wider variety of activities, which may include extra-curricular programs to maintain high scholastic grades.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons, has a practice in Darien, affiliated with Stamford Hospital and is a member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle Institute.