More than a quarter (27%) of young children do not consume a single discrete serving of vegetables on a given day, according to the latest findings from the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS). Published in a series of eight papers in the Journal of Nutrition, the study finds that of the children that do eat veggies, french fries are consumed the most.

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.

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 aged four and younger 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.

Other new FITS findings reveal that troubling nutrient shortfalls may start at an early age and many young children consume sweets and excess sodium:

  • The percentage of infants aged 6–12 months who do not consume the recommended amount of iron has increased from 7.5% in 2002 to 18% in 2016.
  • Fewer than 25% of infants get the recommended amount of vitamin D, which the body needs for strong bones and teeth. Similarly, about 80% of children aged 1–3 fall short on vitamin D.
  • Fewer than 10% of children aged 12–48 months get adequate amounts of dietary fiber.
  • 40% of 1-year-olds and 70%–75% of children aged 2–3 exceed the upper limit for sodium.
  • About 10% of infants aged 6–12 months, 30% of 1-year-olds, and 45% of those aged 2–3 drink sugar-sweetened beverages on a given day, with fruit flavored drinks being the most common.


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