When Did It All Start? Bad Eating Habits Start In Early Years

With the increasing rate of obesity in the United States, one wonders where do the bad eating habits start.  A new study has found evidence that diet starts to go awry as early as nine months.

The Study

Researcher Victor Fulgoni analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 2001 t0 2012. The Washington Post reports that the data accumulated in more than a decade were of 4,406 children under the age of two. The caregivers of these kids were interviewed to know the different food their child ate over a 24-hour period.

Fulgoni then tallied the top 10 foods that babies eat with their corresponding sugar and sodium levels. He charted the information over a three-month period. The resulting data revealed that by the age of nine months, small amounts of the bad stuff begin to show up. By their first birthday, their healthy diet is completely wrecked according to Fulgoni.

The Transition To Solids

While the first few months of a child's life are full of nutritious food, it goes to a different direction upon reaching nine months, Parents.com also confirmed. This is the time when babies get introduced table foods. After the healthy stuff formulated especially for the babies, the little ones get slowly introduced to the bad stuff such as brownies and cakes, sugary drinks, French fries and sweets. Alarmingly, these kids are consuming adult levels of sodium and added sugar by the age of one.

"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."

Related Study

Meanwhile, a similar study conducted by researchers from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences tried to figure out how parents can influence their baby's lifelong diets, Medical Daily reported previously. "Dietary patterns are harder to change later if you ignore the first year, a critical period for the development of taste preferences and the establishment of eating habits," Xiaozhong Wen said, an assistant professor at the university and the lead author of the study.

It was found that parents in the low-income bracket are likely to feed their babies with formula milk during the first six months and later on, feed them foods high in sugar, fat and protein at age one. Meanwhile, parents belonging to higher income brackets with good education tend to follow dietary guidelines set by their doctors.

Experts Advice

Noting that parents are key to preventing childhood obesity, it is important that they introduce healthy foods during the transition from pureed foods to table foods. While processed foods provide convenience, they contain high levels of sodium and added sugar with less to no nutrition value. It is still better to provide them real food. What you feed your babies during this stage can shape their life-long eating habits.

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