Preschoolers eat better but still get too much sugar and juice

August 30, 2004

Preschoolers' diet quality improved marginally between 1977 and 1998 but they are still getting too much added sugar and juice and not enough fruits and vegetables a recent study shows.

Dr. Sibylle Kranz, Penn State assistant professor of nutritional sciences, led the study of changes in diet quality of American preschoolers. She says, "Our study shows that preschoolers' diets are moving in the right direction but still can be improved. Children with healthier diets are less likely to be sick or overweight and they are more likely to continue healthy eating habits when they become adults."

The study is in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health in a paper, Changes in Diet Quality of American Preschoolers Between 1977 and 1998. Kranz's co-authors are Dr. Anna Maria Siega-Riz, associate professor of maternal and child health, and Dr. Amy H. Herring, assistant professor of biostatistics, both at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The researchers rated the preschoolers' diets based on the dietary intake recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other authorities. They found that, over the last 21 years, the main changes in preschoolers' intakes were that the percentage of total calories from fat and saturated fat decreased and the consumption of added sugar as a percentage of total calories increased. Servings of grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, juice and iron also increased. The diets of 2- and 3-year-olds were significantly different from 4- and 5-year-olds, with the younger children having healthier diets. Kranz notes, "As children get older and move away from parental control of their intake, they tend to choose less healthy options."

Iron intake increased over the 21-year period indicating that, based on dietary data, iron intakes appear sufficient and iron deficiency should not be a problem among preschoolers.

The authors write, "Although our index indicates more healthy food choices, overall energy consumption has increased, which might be a contributor to the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity."

The diets increased about 200 calories for both the children with the least good diets as well as those with the best. Carbohydrates are the possible source of these calories, Kranz says. The main sources of sugar in 1998 were candy, sugar and honey added at the table, fruit drinks, soda, cookies and cakes, chocolate milk, ice cream and other desserts.

The authors note that "Targeting diet quality to improve childhood obesity might entail messages to limit intake of certain foods and food groups rather than focusing solely on increasing consumption of certain nutrients."

Since consumption of fruit juices and added sugar have significantly increased, Kranz notes that these areas represent a potential target for improvement, especially since other researchers have found that increased intake of juice puts children at risk of deficiency of milk, yogurt, and cheese.
-end-
The study was supported by a Small Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, and a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a subcontract with the University of North Carolina and the University of North Carolina Institute of Nutrition, Children's Healthy Life Skills Initiative.

Penn State

Related Calories Articles from Brightsurf:

Calories by the clock? Squeezing most of your calories in early doesn't impact weight loss
Time-restricted eating, which restricts eating to specific hours of the day, did not impact weight among overweight adults with prediabetes or diabetes.

Study pinpoints top sources of empty calories for children and teens
A new study of children and teens found that more than 25% of the calories they consume were considered empty -- those from added sugars and solid fats.

People with brown fat may burn 15% more calories
Short-term cold exposure may help people with brown fat burn 15% more calories than those without, according to a small study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Consuming extra calories can help exercising women avoid menstrual disorders
Exercising women who struggle to consume enough calories and have menstrual disorders can simply increase their food intake to recover their menstrual cycle, according to a study accepted for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, and publication in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

People who eat a big breakfast may burn twice as many calories
Eating a big breakfast rather than a large dinner may prevent obesity and high blood sugar, according to new research published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Calories in popular UK restaurant chain dishes can be 'shockingly high' warn experts
The calorie content of popular starters, sides and desserts served in UK restaurant chains is too high and only a minority meet public health recommendations, finds a University of Liverpool study published in BMJ Open.

Monkeys like alcohol at low concentrations, but probably not due to the calories
Fruit-eating monkeys show a preference for concentrations of alcohol found in fermenting fruit, but do not seem to use alcohol as a source of supplementary calories, according to a study by researchers from Linköping University, Sweden, and the Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico.

Pregnant women with obesity may not require additional calories for healthy pregnancies
Guidelines for weight gain and caloric intake during pregnancy are not tailored to women with obesity, 2/3 of whom gain excessive weight during pregnancy that poses a risk to mother and child.

Exercising while restricting calories could be bad for bone health
UNC School of Medicine's Maya Styner, MD, led research showing that the combination of cutting calories and exercising can make bones smaller and more fragile in animals, whereas exercise on a full-calorie diet has a positive impact on bone health.

Even in svelte adults, cutting about 300 calories daily protects the heart
In adults already at a healthy weight or carrying just a few extra pounds, cutting around 300 calories a day significantly improved already good levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and other markers.

Read More: Calories News and Calories Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.