What Are U.S. Children Under Two Eating? Results From Nhanes (2003-2008)
To increase physician knowledge, improve access to care and patient and family communication, and better the quality of obesity care in the community, we characterized the diets of U.S. children under age two, including transitions to solid food and diet differences by race and poverty status.
We included children <24 months of age from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2003-08, with 1-day dietary recall and questionnaire data available (n=2,660). We categorized foods and calculated weighted prevalence proportions of food groups by age, race, and poverty.
Juice (7%), other grain dishes (6.7%), infant cereal (6.6%), and other sweetened products (6.6 %) were more common in the diets of non-Hispanic black children than non-Hispanic white children (p<0.0001), while apples (3.2%), other fruits (2.3%), and cheese (1.4%) were less common. Compared to non-Hispanic whites, crackers/salty snacks (3.9%), cheese (1.5%), bread (1.3%), and most fruits and vegetables made up a lesser proportion of the diet of Mexican-American/other Hispanic children, while other grain dishes were more common (6.5%). Juice (6.6%), sweetened products (6.3%), and potatoes (2.1%) were more common and other vegetables (3.8%), apples (3.6%), and other fruits (2.5%) were less common among poor children compared to non-poor children (p<0.0001).
This study identified healthy and unhealthy dietary patterns and their variation by race and income, thereby highlighting areas for improvement in the diets of very young children. With this knowledge, multidisciplinary treatment teams can target specific populations for educational interventions for the improvement of young children’s diets.