Toddler nutrition is key to proper development and growth. Children need nutrients like Calcium, Iron, and Vitamin C to name a few in order to grow healthy. While it is ideal for children to bank on their nutrition profile, studies show that many children suffer from nutrient deficiency.
Regan Bailey, associate professor at Purdue University noted that it is hard to track the food intake of toddlers considering that a third of their calorie intake comes from snacking. Unfortunately, the standard American diet did not help much as this particular diet provides too much of the bad things or too little of the good stuff to children. This has led him and his team to release the Feeding Infants and Toddler Study in 2016. With the help of other nutrition researchers, they studied the food intake of infants, toddlers, and children.
Infants Are Nutrient Deficient
The findings of their study suggest that infants who are less than 12 months old have a nutritionally adequate diet but 20% of them have a low intake of iron that is necessary for preventing anemia. Anemia causes low oxygen being delivered throughout the body by the blood and this may cause cognitive impairment. Once infants start eating table foods, the nutritional gaps start to be evident especially when children are fed with nutritionally-deficient food. And with many parents feeding their children with fast food items and processed snacks, many toddlers consume too much sugar, salt, and saturated fats. Moreover, they get too little fiber, Vitamin D and potassium from their diet.
Why Children Need To Bank On Their Nutrition
According to Bailey, children need to bank on vitamins and minerals so that the different functions in the body can be supported. It is important for children to consume the right foods and the only way to address nutrient deficiency is to encourage them to eat a myriad of foods. Instead of giving them cookies and other salty snacks, encouraging them to eat fruits and vegetables is great.
But more than encouraging them to eat healthily, one of the most important things to address this issue is to also encourage parents to eat healthily. The study noted that parents who have limited food preferences also influence their children when it comes to being finicky with food. By encouraging parents to eat healthily, it can help reinforce good eating habits among children.
The Future Of Toddler Nutrition And How Politics Play A Role
Researchers and policymakers also play a vital role in helping address nutrient deficiency among children. Creating strategies that will provide families with easier access to fruits, vegetables, and whole food ingredients is very crucial. In recent dates, policymakers in the United States created the 2014 Farm Bill that requires different health institutions to include information on toddler nutrition in future dietary guidelines. After all, the guidelines’ currently being used are very old and need updating. While this is a small change, it can add up over time thus creating a ripple of difference all over the world.
Inspired by www.purdue.edu