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J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Dec;110(12 Suppl):S52-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.09.002.

Food consumption patterns of young preschoolers: are they starting off on the right path?

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  • 1Mathematica Policy Research, 955 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. mfox@mathematicampr.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To describe the food consumption patterns of US children aged 2 and 3 years.

DESIGN:

Descriptive analysis of data collected in the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study 2008 based on a single 24-hour dietary recall collected by telephone.

SUBJECTS:

A national random sample of children aged 2 and 3 years (n=1,461).

STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED:

The percentage of children consuming foods from specific food groups was estimated for the full sample of children aged 2 and 3 years and separately by year of age.

RESULTS:

About a third of 2-year-olds and a quarter of 3-year-olds consumed whole milk at least once in a day. About 70% of 2- and 3-year-olds consumed vegetables as a distinct food item at least once in day. French fries and other fried potatoes were the most commonly consumed vegetable. Almost three quarters of children (73%) consumed fruit as a distinct food item at least once in a day, and 59% consumed 100% juice. Fresh fruit was the most commonly consumed type of fruit. About 85% of children consumed some type of sweetened beverage, dessert, sweet, or salty snack in a day. Percentages of children consuming such foods were consistently higher for 3-year-olds than for 2-year-olds.

CONCLUSIONS:

Parents and caregivers should be encouraged to expose young children to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and healthier fats, and to limit consumption of low-nutrient, energy-dense foods and beverages. Dietary guidance should stress the fact that children in this age group have high nutrient needs and relatively low energy requirements, leaving little room for such foods. Parents need advice that is specific, practical, and actionable.

Copyright © 2010 American Dietetic Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
21092769
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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