Clinica Sierra Vista WIC

Infant & Toddler Diets Improving

Parents and caregivers are hearing and following the feeding guidance for infants, yet there's room for improvement in building good eating habits for their growing children, suggests data from the recently released 2008 Nestle Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study.

The study reveals both progress and areas of concern in the diets of young children in the United States. The data show some positive trends versus the 2002 FITS study.

Infants are being breast fed longer, and fewer infants and toddlers are consuming sweets and sweetened beverages on a given day. However, other findings are less positive -- on a given day, many toddlers and preschoolers aren't eating a single serving of vegetables or fruit; and many toddlers and preschoolers are consuming diets with less than the recommended 30-to-40 percent of calories from fat. Most preschoolers are eating too much saturated fat and sodium.

Highlights of the study:

• Fewer infants are consuming sweets or sweetened beverages. Seventeen percent of infants age six-to-eight months consumed a dessert, sweet, or sweetened beverage on a given day versus 36 percent in 2002. A similar change was seen for children age nine-to-11 months old, with 43 percent in 2008 versus 59 percent in 2002 consuming any dessert, sweet, or sweetened beverage.

• Fruit and vegetable consumption remains a problem for all age groups studied. About 25 percent of older infants, toddlers, and preschoolers don't eat a single serving of fruit on a given day, and 30 percent don't eat a single serving of vegetables. These findings are similar to those in FITS 2002 for infants and toddlers.

• Fewer toddlers were consuming sweetened beverages in 2008 than in 2002. This was especially true among children age 12-to-14 months (14 percent drank a sweetened beverage on a given day in 2008 versus 29 percent in 2002) and children 18-to-20 months (29 percent in 2008 versus 47 percent in 2002).

• On a given day, 23 percent of toddlers 12-to-24 months and one third of preschoolers are consuming diets of less than the recommended 30-to-40 percent of calories from fat. Yet, 75 percent of preschoolers are consuming too much saturated fat.

• Mothers are breast feeding their children longer. In 2008, 33 percent of nine-to-11 month olds are still receiving breast milk compared to just 21 percent in 2002.

Other survey findings:

• French fries are still the most popular vegetable among toddlers and preschoolers.

• There is a significant reduction in the number of infants, age four-to-11 months, consuming juice on a given day, versus 2002.

• Twelve percent of children from six-to-11 months of age are not getting enough iron on a given day.

• Seventy-one percent of toddlers and eighty-four percent of preschoolers consume more sodium than recommended on a given day.

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