Disparities exist between the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and the dietary intakes of young children aged two to three years

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Abstract

Aim:

To compare dietary intakes of young children to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) and Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs).

Methods:

Dietary intakes of 54 children (50% girls) aged two to three years (mean 2.7 years) from the Women and Their Children's Health (WATCH) study were reported by mothers using a validated 120-item food frequency questionnaire. Daily consumption of AGHE food group servings, macronutrients, and micronutrients were compared to the AGHE and NRVs using t-test with significance set at P < 0.05.

Results:

No child achieved all AGHE targets, with the majority consuming less breads/cereals (1.9 vs 4.0 servings/day), vegetables (1.3 vs 2.5), and meat/alternatives (0.7 vs 1.0), all P < 0.0001. Adequate servings were observed for dairy (2.2 vs 1.5) and fruit (1.3 vs 1.0). Macronutrients were within recommended ranges, although 96% exceeded saturated fatty acid recommendations. Children who met selected NRVs consumed more fruit (1.4 vs 1.0; P < 0.0086), dairy (2.2 vs 1.5; P < 0.0001) and discretionary foods (2.6 vs ≤1.0; P < 0.0001) but less breads/cereals (2.0 vs 4.0; P < 0.0001) and vegetables (1.3 vs 2.5; P < 0.0001) servings, compared to the AGHE recommended servings.

Conclusions:

Child dietary intakes did not align with AGHE, while adequate nutrient profiles were achieved by various dietary patterns. Future studies involving data from larger, representative samples of children are warranted.

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