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Am J Public Health. 1995 December; 85(12): 1673–1677.
PMCID: PMC1615722

The tracking of nutrient intake in young children: the Framingham Children's Study.


OBJECTIVES. This study compared the nutrient intake of children at 3 through 4 years of age with that in subsequent years to determine whether nutrient intake tracked over time. METHODS. Intakes of 10 nutrients were estimated by means of multiple days of food diaries collected over a span of up to 6 years of follow-up for 95 children in the Framingham Children's Study. All diaries collected during each of three age periods (age 3 through 4, age 5 through 6, and age 7 through 8) were averaged. Nutrient density intakes at each age period were compared. RESULTS. Nutrient-specific correlations ranged from .37 to .63 between nutrient density intakes at age 3-4 and age 5-6. Correlations between intakes at age 3-4 and age 7-8 ranged from .35 to .62. Consistency of classification was strong; 35.7% to 57.1% of children in the highest quintile of intake at age 3-4 remained in that quintile at age 5-6, and 57.1% to 85.7% remained in the top two quintiles. At age 7-8, 40.0% to 66.7% of those with the highest intake at baseline were still in the top quintile, and 60.0% to 93.3% remained in the top two quintiles. Results were similar in the lowest quintile of intake. Extreme misclassification was rare. CONCLUSIONS. This study suggests that tracking of nutrient intake begins as young as 3-4 years of age.

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