Toddlers’ horror junk food habit revealed
TODDLERS are switching from the bottle or breast almost straight to junk food and soft drinks in what the Dietitians Association of Australia says is a highly alarming trend.
The association is calling on the Federal Government to urgently invest in establishing specific dietary guidelines for newborns to two year olds to build up healthy habits for life.
Professor Jane Scott, from the DAA and Professor of Public Health Nutrition Research at Curtin University says it is time for a national infant diet and nutrition survey to help establish specific dietary recommendations for small children as little is known about their food choices.
This survey would form part of the development of a new National Nutrition Policy, which Australia has not updated in 26 years.
"In the first two years of a child's life, food and nutrition play a significant role. During this time, not only does a child experience high rates of growth and development but they also begin to establish their food preferences," Prof Scott attending the DAA's national conference said.
"While Australia has national data on breastfeeding practices, little is known about the food choices of children aged 0-2 years as they transition from a milk-based diet to the family diet," she said.
The limited research that is available on the diets of small children paints a bleak picture with one in five toddlers' low in iron, discretionary 'junk' foods introduced early, with intake increasing in a child's second year of life.
Over half of 18 month old children consume more than the recommended daily upper levels of sodium intake (1000mg/day) and seven in 10 two year olds consume more than five per cent of their energy from free sugars - those found in soft drinks, fruit juices and processed foods.
"Increased consumption of salt and processed 'junk' foods, are key contributors to health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes - meaning we aren't setting our kids up with healthy food habits," Prof Scott said.
TOTS' HORROR DIETS
■ 95 per cent kids, aged two to six, do not eat enough vegies
■ Seven in 10 toddlers get 5 per cent of energy from bad sugars
■ One in five toddlers are low in iron
■ Half of our 18-month-olds eat too much salt
■ First 1000 days of diet set up children for life