The latest findings from the landmark Nestle Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) were presented at The Obesity Society’s annual scientific meeting in Orlando last week. The new data provides insight about the evolution of children’s diets, from birth through preschool, including sources of calories, key nutrients and snacking patterns. Unfortunately, this year’s FITS study revealed some extremely concerning statistics!
1. 10% of preschoolers age 2-5 are obese.
2. Eating habits are established as young as 12-24 months, and unfortunately toddlers are getting a bad start.
3. By age 4, calories from sweets account for three times more than calories from fruits and vegetables.
4. One third of their daily calories come from snacks between meals. Unfortunately, cookies, candy and crackers are the snacks most consumed.
“We’re seeing poor eating habits starting early in life, and they mirror those of older children and adults. Parents and caregivers need to know that eating patterns are set early – between 12 to 24 months. It’s crucial to establish the foundation for healthy diets early in life when eating habits and food preferences are being formed,” said Dr. Kathleen Reidy, DrPH, RD, Head, Nutrition Science, Nestle Infant Nutrition. read more…
Scary to think that it’s getting worse from year to year.
What you can do as a parent to a baby / toddler:
1. Set an example by eating healthfully. If you’re guzzling a coke, your child will want one too. If you’re demolishing a family pack of Doritos watching the game on Sunday afternoon, your kid will do the same.
2. Don’t go down the juice path. Keep your baby hydrated with water. No need for the extra calories from juice as juice is primarily composed of sugar.
3. Always have fruit or vegetable available for snack. Whether banana, blueberries, apple slices, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or frozen options, young people need to be accustomed to the shapes, colors, and flavors of veggies and fruit.
4. That said, junk food should be allowed rarely. Eliminate it from your cupboards, your fridge or any other accessible place in your home. It’s detrimental to your health as an adult, and even more so to your child! Try to avoid using junk food as a bribe for positive behavior/response. Never refer to junk food items as a treat…
5. Prepare food together. Toddlers love to play with food, and watch it being prepared. Give them a front row seat to your prep work by bringing their high chair into a vantage point on your prep work (never too close to the stove or range). Talk with them about what you are preparing and let them “help” in whatever capacity is relevant.