Healthy Diet from Infancy Prevents Obesity and Chronic Disease, StudyBy Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
Adopting a healthy diet from infancy helps prevent childhood obesity and onset of chronic disease, according to a new study by the Queensland University of Technology.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Plus, nearly 2.4 million American children suffer from iron deficiency. Obese toddlers, who are not in day care facilities, face a heightened risk for iron deficiency, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
For the study, the researchers focused on quantity and diversity of food and drinks, consumed by children aged between 12-16 months. They found that although most toddlers were consuming a varied diet, the amount and type of meat or meat alternatives was lower in quantity. They were in fact consuming foods that are normally considered unnecessary at this age like sweet biscuits.
"The toddler years are a critical age in the development of long-term food preferences, but this is also the age that autonomy, independence and food fussiness begins," Researcher Rebecca Byrne said in a press release. "Liking a nutrient-dense diet that incorporates all five food groups is important, as evidence suggests that food preferences develop at this early age and persist into adulthood."
The finding is published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
A recent University of Leeds study found that offering vegetables to children when they are infants encourages them to eat more when compared to giving them the same vegetables at later stages. "If you want to encourage your children to eat vegetables, make sure you start early and often," Professor Marion Hetherington, leader of the study, said in a press release.