News article

UAE FITS survey concludes parents need more guidance on suitable feeding plans

Posted:  Monday, October 15, 2012

The most recent Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS), focused on the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has highlighted gaps between the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended feeding practices for children aged 6-24 months and the realities in the region.

The study involved 500 infants aged 6-11.9 months and 500 children aged 12-24 months. It set out to describe feeding patterns of infants and toddlers in the UAE, assess nutrient adequacy of diets and the extent to which they matched current feeding recommendations.

While most mothers in the region are educated and well informed, not much was previously known about the dietary status of UAE infants and toddlers, especially how subgroups of different ages vary in their food consumption and nutrient intakes.

Some of the outcomes were encouraging, for example, about 90% of infants had been introduced to complementary foods between 4 and 6 months matching recommendations by the AAP.

However, only 60% of children aged 5 months were breastfed and by 9-11 months, 90-100% were consuming unmodified cow’s milk on a daily basis, well ahead of the APP recommended 12 months or later. In addition, 1 in 10 children consumed French fries or sweetened beverages on any given day and 7% consumed juice before the AAP recommended age of 6 months or later. 

To help close these gaps, parents and caregivers would benefit from guidance about the introduction of developmentally appropriate, micronutrient-rich first solid foods such as iron-rich infant cereals, iron-fortified grain products, meats, soft fruits, cooked vegetables and the importance of breastfeeding through the first year of life.

Improvements in nutritional practices and feeding behaviors in infancy and early childhood will not only influence immediate growth and health, but potentially bring long-term health benefits such as a reduced risk of obesity and hypertension, which often have antecedents early in life.

To learn more about the importance of adequate early nutrition and its impact on health later in life the following resources are available on the Nestlé Nutrition Institute website:

 Online Conference: Weaning Practices in the US, New Findings from the 2008 FITS
In this film, Dr. Anna Maria Siega-Ritz compares the 2008 FITS findings with the 2002 study. While she notes some encouraging improvements, the study showed that good feeding habits often decline after the age of two and she encourages pediatricians to help parents change this

Publication: Early Nutrition: Impact on Short- and Long-Term Health 
This publication followed the 68th Nestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop, which was dedicated to early nutrition and its impact on long-term health. In this book, more than 20 leading experts share their latest thinking and research on the subject. 

Event details and webinars: 68th NNIW: Early Nutrition: Impact on Short- and Long-Term Health
On this page you will find more details of this event and the various presentations.