Recent trends in infant and toddler food and beverage consumption

1. When examining a national survey with data from 2005-2012, younger infants (0-5 months of age) were noted to have a decline in complementary feeding, but there was no substantial change breast milk consumption among most groups studied. There was a significant decline reported in breast milk consumption among young Mexican American infants.

2. During 2005-2012, older infants (6-23 months of age) were noted to have a significant decrease in juice intake.

Study Rundown:  During the first 2 years of life, infants and toddlers establish food preferences and eating behaviors based on the types of foods they receive in the context of a caregiver-child feeding relationship. This developmental process is believed to play a role in shaping future eating behavior, growth, weight status, and adult cardiometabolic health. Existing literature on infant and toddler food preferences and eating behavior is limited. In this cross-sectional study, researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to provide a recent description in temporal trends of food and beverage consumption in 0-23 month olds from 2005-2012. Notable trends of concern included that 25% of 6-11 month olds and 20% of 12-23 month olds reporting no consumption of vegetables and nearly 60% of 0-5 month olds had surveys results indicating no breast milk, with an additional significant decline in breast milk consumption among young Mexican American infants. Beneficial trends included a significant decrease in juice in 6-11 month old non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites. Limitations of this study include bias through over and/or underreporting of certain food intakes in the NHANES survey and lack of accounting for variability in portion sizes. Overall, this study suggests the need for more research to evaluate factors that influence early parental feeding decisions and how providers counsel new parents on infant and toddler nutrition. Additionally, this study may serve as an impetus for targeted interventions promoting breastfeeding among certain groups of infants.

Click to read the study, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant Reading: Learning to eat: Birth to age 2 y

In-Depth [cross-sectional study]: This study utilized dietary survey data from NHANES, which included 2, 24-hour dietary recalls, which were completed by parents for children less than 6 years of age. The study included children between 0-23 months of age (n = 2359) who had 2 dietary recall interviews completed on their behalf, which included pooled data from 2 survey cycles (2005-2008 and 2009-2012). Researchers stratified participants by age into groups of young infants (0-5 months) and older infants (6-11 and 12-23 months). Notable trends for young infants included a decrease in complementary feeding from 50.4% (in 2005-2008) to 36.4% (in 2009-2012; p = 0.03), and a decrease in breast milk consumption for Mexican American infants from 50.5% (in 2005-2008) to 39.6% (in 2009-2012; p = 0.04).With respect to breast feeding, 39.9% and 35.7% of young infants consumed breast milk between 2005-2008 and 2009-2012, respectively. In older infants, daily fruit and vegetable consumption in those 6-23 month of age remained unchanged during 2005-2008 (6-11 month = 91.3%, 12-23 months = 96%) and between 2009-2012 (6-11 months = 93.8%; 12-23 months = 96.2%). For older infants 6-11 months old, the prevalence of fruit juice consumption declined from 60.2% (2005-2008) to 47.7% (2009-2012; p =0.02). Additionally, over time, 6-11 month olds consumed less snacks, with approximately 62% of these infants consuming snacks during 2005-2008 and 50% reportedly consuming them in 2009-2012 (p < 0.05).

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