(NEW YORK) -- You are what you eat...even when you’re a two-year-old. The results of a new study show that consumption of specific foods such as cheese, whole milk, hot dogs, bacon and cookies by young children is leading to an excessive intake of saturated fat and sodium in their daily diets.
The new findings are from a recent analysis of the 2008 Nestle Feeding Infants and Toddlers study. Researchers specifically examined the food sources contributing to calories, saturated fat and sodium intake in the diets of children ages one year to four years.
Researchers found that those foods represent 70 percent of a child’s saturated fat intake.
Those items, along with bread and ready-to-eat cereals, contribute almost 50 percent of a child’s daily calories.
The findings also reveal that preschoolers are consuming nearly one-third of their total daily calories from solid fats and added sugars.
Many of those same foods contribute almost 40 percent of a young child's sodium intake. That intake equates to a child between the ages of two and four consuming an average of 1,863 milligrams of sodium per day.
The findings confirm previously released research from the Nestle study that showed 45 percent of toddlers and 78 percent of preschoolers consume much more sodium than recommended.
The study’s authors advise that since milk is vital in children's diets and provides many important nutrients, including protein, calcium and vitamins, parents should not limit milk but instead use one percent and skim. The authors also recommend that other sources of saturated fat should be limited in the diets of young children.
"The first years of a child's life are a critical period of development. Instilling good eating habits during this time can help put a child on the path to a healthy future," said Kathleen Reidy, DrPH, RD, and Head of Nutrition Science, Nestle Infant Nutrition.
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