News article

Findings from four studies into eating habits and nutritional intake of infant and children were presented at the III World Congress of Public Health

Posted:  Thursday, November 27, 2014

The III World Congress of Public Health Nutrition, held in Las Palmas, Grand Canary Islands, covered a broad-range of public health nutrition topics, including four studies presented by Nestlè scientists, shared during multiple sessions. Posters containing the highlights of each study were also made available. Here is an overview of the findings of each study:

Dietary Impact: Results of FITS in U.S. and MING in China

This study used two unique data sets to demonstrate the different dietary patterns of young children in U.S. and China: the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) conducted in the US in 2008 and the Maternal and Infant Nutrition and Growth (MING) Study conducted in China in 2012.

The examination showed the dietary patterns that lead to poor diet quality and over nutrition. These patterns include the inadequate consumption of fruits, vegetables and healthy oils and high consumption of sweetened beverages and sweet foods.

In both U.S. and China, it seems that high consumption of low nutrient dense foods is creating dietary imbalances. In China, dietary variety is low among Chinese infants and toddlers with foods such as rice and noodles displacing higher nutrient dense foods such as milk, creating key nutrient gaps as well as overconsumption of calories by some.

While in U.S., the high consumption of sweets appears to be consumed in addition to nutrient dense foods such as milks, but is displacing fruits and vegetables. Such specific dietary patterns must be understood in each country so that effective approaches to improvement can be developed.

Read the abstract here

Maternal and infant growth study (MING)

The MING study evaluated the nutrient intake of infants and toddlers from eight cities across China and uncovered more about the dietary status of young children in China – the first large-scale study of this kind in China.

The study identified a number of potential concerns. A significant proportion of the infants and toddlers studied did not reach recommended levels of energy and some were not consuming enough protein or carbohydrates. There were also shortfalls in the intakes of several vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc and selenium in the older infants and toddlers, but excessive intakes of others, including vitamin A and zinc. Sodium intakes were also 50% above the levels set by the Institute of medicine in the US with salt added during cooking the largest contributor (no recommendations for sodium consumption currently exist in China).

Further work is warranted to identify the factors associated with the inadequate and excessive nutrient intakes and to evaluate the best strategies for ensuring the diet of young children balanced.

See more about the MING study here

Kids Nutrition and Health Survey (KNHS): Lunch

This survey analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2010 to identify the foods consumed by children and adolescents in the U.S. at lunchtime and to what extent these meals contributed to their energy and nutrient intakes.

The study found that lunch skipping was common, especially among adolescents (19%), and on average, lunch contributed to around a quarter of the total energy intake. Although consumption of most food groups was comparable across age groups, fruit and vegetable consumption tended to decrease with age. However, the frequency of consumption of mixed dishes, such as sandwiches and pizza, increased with age and most likely contributed to vegetable intake.

With regards to beverages, consumption of milk-based beverages and 100% fruit juices also decreased with age. Relative to energy contribution, lunch provided higher percentages of the day’s total intake for protein and sodium and lower intakes for total sugar, iron and vitamin A among all age groups.

As the variety of food groups consumed at lunch tends to decrease with age in U.S. children, the study concluded that Nutrition education programs specifically targeted to adolescents are required, with emphasis on increased fruit, vegetable, milk and water consumption.

See more about the KNHS lunch survey here

Kids Nutrition and Health Survey (KNHS): Fat, Sodium, Sugars,Calcium,VitaminD

Two surveys analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2010 to identify food sources of solid fat, sodium, added sugars, calcium, vitamin D, potassium and dietary fiber in U.S. children (2-8) and adolescents (9-18).

The data highlighted that unhealthy eating habits become more pronounced from childhood to adolescence. Sweetened beverages were found to be the main contributor to added sugar intake. Milk and pizza both contribute to solid-fat intakes, but also contribute other

Favorable nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D in the case of milk and calcium and dietary fiber in the case of pizza.

The study into fat, sodium and sugar intake concluded that there are opportunities to educate consumers to compare food products and labels and choose healthier options, along with food industry opportunities for product improvement.

While the study into calcium and vitamin D saw a big challenge ahead in helping U.S. children to meet the dietary intake recommendations of these two nutrients, especially in older children, and called for food sources that contain these micronutrients to be promoted.

See KNHS: Fat, Sodium, Sugars survey here

See KNHS Poster: Calcium and vitamin D here