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Appetite. 2011 Dec;57(3):796-807. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.05.316. Epub 2011 May 27.

Development of healthy eating habits early in life. Review of recent evidence and selected guidelines.

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Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation, UMR6265 CNRS, UMR1324 INRA, Université de Bourgogne, Agrosup Dijon, F-21000 Dijon, France.


Encouraging healthy eating habit development early in life is a way to prevent the onset of diet-related diseases. This review focuses on the period ranging from the beginning of complementary feeding until the age of 3 years. Its first objective was to review relevant themes in the most recent literature on the development of healthy eating habits in this period. Its second objective was to evaluate to what extent international and national feeding guidelines cover these themes. Analysed guidelines included WHO, European Network for Public Health Nutrition, US and two European national guidelines (UK and France). They were evaluated using a 4-pt scale and compared. Well-covered themes in current literature include the influence of exposure on later acceptance, the role of variety and parental styles. Themes that occur more rarely include the role of texture, the development of autonomy, the optimization of variety, acceptable consumption levels of sweet and salty foods, and the way to cope with food refusal. Guidelines in general cover most of the themes, but some of the national guidelines are incomplete. Finally, guidelines should give more practical tips to parents, especially to help them establish a responsive feeding behaviour.

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