Analysis of nutrition of children aged 13-36 months in Poland: a nation-wide study

Halina Weker, Marta Barańska, Hanna Dyląg, Agnieszka Riahi, Małgorzata Więch, Małgorzata Strucińska, Patrycja Kurpińska, Grażyna Rowicka, Witold Klemarczyk
Medycyna Wieku Rozwojowego 2011, 15 (3): 224-31

AIM: The aim of the study was to analyse the diets of children aged 13-36 months in Poland compared to nutritional recommendations.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The questionnaire study was conducted between June and September 2010 on a representative, nation-wide sample of children aged 13-36 months. The study concerned 400 children from across Poland. They were selected by means of drawing their PESEL (personal identity) number. The nutritional status of children was assessed using anthropometric data, i.e. their current weight and height. The relative body mass index BMI (kg/m2) and the BMI z-score were calculated for each child and compared with the WHO child growth standards. The diets of children were assessed using an original questionnaire with 3-day diet records. Nutritional value was calculated using Dieta 4.0 computer programme.

RESULTS: The study demonstrated that 45.5% of children were in the normal BMI z-score range (from -1.0 to +1.0). Underweight children accounted for 12.5% (BMI z-score between -2.0 and -1.0) and severely underweight for 14.5% (BMI z-score < -2.0) of the studied group. The share of overweight and obese children was 14.5% and 13.0%, respectively. Large individual variation in food intake was observed in diets of the children. The intake of cereal products, meat, poultry and cold meats in daily diets was twice higher than recommended. The children ate significantly less vegetables and fruits and drank less milk and fermented milk beverages than recommended in model food rations. Energy and nutritional value of an average daily food ration differed considerably from the standards for majority of nutrients. The intake of proteins was three times higher than the current norms.

CONCLUSIONS: The diets of children aged 13-36 months differed from current recommendations but the nutritional status evaluated based on BMI was normal in 45.5% of children from the analysed group. The content of majority of macronutrients, in particular protein, in average daily food rations was incompliant with nutritional norms, which in long term may increase the risk of diet-related diseases. Current nutritional recommendations concerning the diets of children in the post-infancy period need to be verified and disseminated.

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