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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Food intakes by preschool children in Flanders compared with dietary guidelines

Inge Huybrechts, Christophe Matthys, Carine Vereecken, Lea Maes, Elisabeth H M Temme, Herman Van Oyen, Guy De Backer, Stefaan De Henauw
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2008, 5 (4): 243-57
19190355
The objective of this study was to compare food group intakes among preschool children with food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) and to determine the proportion of children meeting these guidelines. Food consumption of preschool children (2.5-6.5 years) living in Flanders (Belgium) were assessed in a cross-sectional study, using proxy reported 3d estimated dietary records (EDR) (n 696). Statistical modelling was used to account for within-individual variation in the 3d EDR. Mean daily intakes of most food groups (beverages, vegetables, fruit and milk) were below the minimum recommendations. Only 'grains and potatoes' and 'meat products' were in line with the recommendations and 'bread and cereals' showed borderline intakes. Mean intakes of energy-dense and low-nutritious foods, which are discouraged within a healthy diet (like snacks and sugared drinks), were high. Furthermore, the percentage of children complying with the different food-based dietary guidelines was for most food groups extremely low (ranging from approximately 4% for fluid and vegetable intakes up to 99% for potato intakes). Boys had in general higher mean intakes of the recommended food groups. In conclusion, preschool children in Flanders follow eating patterns that do not meet Flemish FBDG. Although the impact of these eating habits on preschooler's current and future health should be further investigated, it is clear that nutrition education and intervention are needed among preschool children and their parents in Flanders.

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