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Characterizing the Dietary Landscape of Children, 12 to 35 Months Old

Moshfegh, Alanna J. MS, RD; Rhodes, Donna G. MS, RD; Goldman, Joseph D. MA; Clemens, John C. MS

doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000197
Feature Article

Dietary intakes in childhood are one of several factors that influence food and beverage choices later in life. Nationally representative dietary data of US children aged 1 and 2 years (toddlers) (n = 469) participating in the “What We Eat in America” component of the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were analyzed to assess food, beverage, and nutrient intakes. Dietary intakes were collected using 24-hour dietary recall interview conducted by proxy that was usually the mother. Mean and distribution of usual nutrient intakes, percentage meeting dietary reference intakes, meal and snack patterns, and intakes of foods and beverages were estimated. The energy intake of toddlers was 1335 kcal/d. Usual nutrient intakes of vitamins D and E were less than the recommended intake levels by 86% and 62% of toddlers, respectively. Almost all toddlers (96%) had usual intakes less than the recommendations for dietary fiber and potassium, and 71% exceeded the upper level for sodium. Mean daily intake of added sugars was 10% of daily energy intake, with approximately 40% of toddlers exceeding that level. Mean daily snack occasion of toddlers was 3.1, which contributed one-third of their daily energy intake. Beverages contributed one-fourth of their daily energy intake. On the basis of 1 day of dietary recall, milk, water, and 100% fruit juice were the top beverages consumed by toddlers. Soft drinks were consumed by 14% of toddlers. Grain products, protein foods, and mixed dishes were each consumed by at least three-fourths of the toddlers. A greater proportion of toddlers consumed fruit (71%) compared with vegetables (57%). Nearly 1 in 3 toddlers consumed candy, and 2 in 5 consumed cakes/cookies/pastries. More than one-third consumed savory snacks, including chips, popcorn, and pretzels, and an equal proportion consumed crackers. Although the dietary intakes of toddlers met the recommendations for many nutrients, the consumption of food and beverage choices that were not nutrient dense may merit concern. Less healthy choices, introduced at early ages, may shape dietary habits across the life-span.

Alanna J. Moshfegh, MS, RD, is a research leader of the Food Surveys Research Group at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Maryland, in the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

Donna G. Rhodes, MS, RD, is a nutritionist at the Food Surveys Research Group at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Maryland, in the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

Joseph D. Goldman, MA, and John C. Clemens, MS, are mathematical statisticians at the Food Surveys Research Group at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Maryland, in the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

This article is a based on a presentation by Alanna Moshfegh during a conference held in Washington, DC, on October 29–30, 2015. This conference was funded by the Sugar Association and planned in part by the Department of Pediatrics Section of Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Ms. Moshfegh did not receive travel expenses or an honorarium from The Sugar Association for her participation in the conference.

No funding was received by the authors for the preparation of this article. This article appears in the Nutrition Today supplement, Sweet Taste Perception and Feeding Toddler, funded by The Sugar Association.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Alanna J. Moshfegh, MS, RD, 10300 Baltimore Ave, Room 102, Beltsville, MD 20705 (alanna.moshfegh@ars.usda.gov).

In the public domain.

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.