From Washington Post By Ariana Eunjung Cha:The first few months of a child's life are a glorious — and healthful — time for eating. There are the tentative swallows of soupy cereal grains. The sweet bites of neon-green pureed peas. The smears of earthy carrots. How and when do things go so horribly wrong for so many Americans? Why is it that by the time millions of us are adults, we are subsisting on diets full of saturated fats and processed sugars?
In an effort to pinpoint exactly when our diet starts to go awry, researcher Victor Fulgoni analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 2001 to 2012 for 4,406 children under the age of 2. That information is collected by government researchers based on surveys of caregivers. The participants, who are selected based on a complex statistical process, were asked during in-person interviews to list what their child ate over a 24-hour period. Fulgoni tallied the top 10 food sources for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and added sugars in three-month increments and then calculated an estimate for the amount of sodium and added sugars they were consuming.
The findings show that bad habits start much, much earlier than you might think — as early as in the toddler years, a situation that places at least part of the blame for your poor eating squarely on your parents.
"When breast-feeding begins to stop, and they transition to regular foods, that's when we see the American diet creeping in," Fulgoni said in an interview. "We're not talking about super-sized fries or soft drinks, but there's enough that it's concerning."
Now Fulgoni is a consultant working for Beech-Nut Nutrition, which makes baby foods, and his job is to help companies make nutritional claims about their products. He has previously done the same for Kellogg. But this latest analysis — based on publicly available data gathered by the National Center for Health Statistics, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so it is easily reproducible by others — isn't associated with a particular product. The work is being presented this week at an academic conference in San Diego that focuses on things such as nutrition, pharmacology and physiology.