ARLINGTON, VA (Sept. 4, 2018) — More than a quarter (27 percent) of young children do not consume a single discrete serving of vegetables on a given day, according to the latest findings from the landmark Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS). Among the toddlers who do, French Fries are the No. 1 vegetable consumed, show the FITS findings, which have just been published in a series of eight papers in the Journal of Nutrition, a publication of the American Society for Nutrition.
According to FITS, food choices tend to change and more nutrient gaps appear after a child’s first birthday, when most begin eating more family foods. By age two, many children have established taste preferences and eating habits that will last a lifetime, which is why pediatricians and public health experts urge parents to help their children set healthy eating behaviors early.
“Good nutrition during a child’s early years is particularly critical because it sets the stage for healthy eating throughout life,” said Wendy Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., Vice President, Nutrition, Health and Wellness for Nestlé USA. “Exposing young children to a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, and a variety of foods and flavors, is important as children are forming their tastes and eating habits for life.”
FITS is the largest dietary intake study in the United States focused on infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Nearly 10,000 parents and caregivers of children under age four have been surveyed over three FITS studies, which Gerber began in 2002. FITS is now conducted by Nestlé Research in Lausanne, Switzerland with a team of leading independent pediatric experts and nutrition scientists from academic, medical, government and research institutions. As part of the company’s Nestlé for Healthier Kids initiative to help 50 million children lead healthier lives by 2030, FITS helps to build, share and apply nutritional knowledge.
“The latest FITS data confirm that more work is needed to improve the diets of young children, and gives us insight into areas we must focus on to foster healthy eating habits,” said Johnson.
Other new FITS findings reveal that troubling nutrient shortfalls start early and many young children consume sweets and excess sodium:
Help kids eat more veggies and fruit
Parents should keep in mind that it might take several tries – in fact up to 10 or more – for kids to accept a new food. Keep offering veggies and fruit, and try these ideas.
Offer a rainbow of veggies
Increase children’s fruit consumption to get important nutrients they need
Enhancing food policy discussions with FITS data
The latest FITS findings are well-timed to inform food policy discussions, including the development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, which will include comprehensive dietary guidance for infants and toddlers (from birth to age 24 months) for the first time ever, as well as women who are pregnant. They will also help inform reconsideration of the benefits offered in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food package, which was last revised in 2009.
“While academic organizations and the public health community have invested significantly in improving children’s food choices amidst the obesity epidemic, the conversation needs to start earlier, with focused efforts on infants and toddlers through education and interventions with proven benefits,” said Dr. Ryan Carvalho, M.D., Medical Director at Gerber. “Now is the time to halt the rise of childhood overweight and obesity by supporting healthy behaviors in our youngest children as their eating habits and food preferences are being formed.”
For more information about FITS, visit nestleusa.com/FITS.
Nestlé in the United States is committed to being a trusted leader in nutrition, health and wellness. Our 50,000 employees in the United States are committed to enhancing quality of life, contributing to a healthier future for individuals and families, our communities and the planet. Nestlé in the U.S. offers a wide and varied portfolio of food and beverage products for people and their pets throughout their lives. Nestlé in the U.S. consists of eight main businesses: Nestlé USA, Nestlé Waters North America, Nestlé Nutrition, Nestlé Professional, Nespresso, Nestlé Health Science, Nestlé Skin Health and Nestlé Purina PetCare Company. The United States is Nestlé S.A.’s largest market with combined product sales in the U.S. totaling more than $27 billion in 2017. For more information, visit Nestleusa.com or Facebook.com/NestleUSA.
Gerber Products Company was founded in 1928 in Fremont, Mich. Gerber joined the Nestlé family on September 1, 2007. Gerber is a leader in early childhood nutrition. At Gerber, research informs everything we do – from the products we make, the nutrition education we deliver and the services we offer. Gerber provides resources from the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) for health care professionals at Medical.Gerber.com/FITS and for parents at Gerber.com.