Nutrient Intake Patterns in Preschool Children from Inner City Day-Care Centers
An elevated body mass index (BMI) early in childhood is known as a predictor for adult obesity and obesity related comorbidities. Three year old obese children have exhibited inflammatory biomarkers linked to chronic diseases, so childhood obesity prevention efforts should start during early years of life. The current study, conducted in the U.S., collected 24 hour nutrient intake through dietary records and compared body weight and intake patterns of children from two daycare centers differing in racial and income levels. Anthropometric and dietary measures were obtained from 74 caregivers (CG) and their children. Each child’s food intake at preschool was observed and recorded by direct observation by graduate students. The home food intake was recorded by the CG. Fifty one CG returned all the dietary records and completed the study. Both center and at home records were combined together to produce the daily nutrient intake data. The mean BMI percentile for both boys and girls were in the healthy BMI range, although a higher percent of girls had BMI greater than 85 percentile. All macronutrients were significantly higher than the Dietary Recommended Intake (DRI) or estimated average requirement (EAR). Children from low income families consumed more protein, total fat, saturated fat, higher percentage of energy from saturated fat and had higher sodium intake. Elevated intake of fat and protein may predispose children to weight gain. Nutrition education to teach CG, especially those with low income, to reduce energy density in meals is warranted.
Childhood obesity, energy intake, high fat diet, dietary pattern, household income.
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