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Diet Habits Set in Infancy

July 3, 2016
Plain English Version

diet habitsA new series of studies show how important it is to start good eating habits for children by late in their first year.  As one expert said, taste preferences start early. It is good for infants to learn to like fruits and vegetables. It is bad for them to learn to like sugary beverages. The effects are long lasting.

The diets of 1,500 one-year olds were compared with their diets five years later.  A key finding is that when infants eat few fruits and vegetables, as six-year olds they will eat few fruits and vegetables.

Non-carbonated drinks with added sugar, such as cranberry juice cocktail, should be avoided in the first year.  One report found that one-fourth of the infants studied have been fed such drinks.

Babies should not drink even small amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages. Those that do are much more likely to drink them one or more times daily at age 6. Babies who drink  sugar-sweetened beverages three times a week are much more likely to be obese at age six. years than those who drank none as infants.

It is not clear what impact breast-feeding might have on a child’s later diet.  However, breast-fed infants are more accepting of new foods than are babies who drank the same-tasting formula.

Some studies suggest that breast-feeding might protect against early obesity.

Other researchers found that children are more likely to accept new foods, such as brussel sprouts, if they see their parents eating them.  “It’s not just changing your children’s diet.  It’s changing the whole family’s, and that the thing, isn’t it?”

Source: New York Times, September 2, 2014

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