Victorian researchers have found that by the time a child turns three and a half, a quarter of children's energy intake was fueled by foods deemed too high in saturated fat or sugar to belong in the five healthy food groups.
At 9 months old, children met guidelines for fruit and vegetables, however, this dropped substantially to less than 10% by 18 months old.
Fruit intake was better, with most children meeting the guidelines at nine months. However, this reduced to only about one third at five-years-of-age.
According to Health Australia CEO Ruby O'Rourke, the research results are not surprising.
“The immediacy of food is a big problem. Kids aren’t learning how to cook, or what vegetables they can use.”
Critically, young children were not learning anything about their bodies.
“When you don’t know the infrastructure of your body you cannot appreciate what food does for you,” Ms O’Rourke said.
feedAustralia, a healthy food program being rolled out to local early education and childcare providers, will help child care services across Australia meet children's Australian Dietary Guidelines.
Learning about healthy lifestyles contributes to children’s sense of well-being and builds their confidence in themselves. Educators and Parents can help children learn about healthy eating, hygiene and how to keep fit and active. As children become more independent, they can take greater responsibility for their own health, safety and wellbeing.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines help Educators and Parents make good choices about food and drink for children. Just as important as implementing good habits is that adults have conversations with children and provide opportunities for them to learn about eating nutritious foods and how that contributes to good health. Healthy eating habits begun in childhood can have a lasting effect.
Toddlers’ terrible diets need to be junked, research shows, Bendigo Adviser, March 17, 2018
Children's Health and Nutrition, Early Childhood Australia