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Healthy Diets Must Start During Infancy, Study Suggests

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Want your kids to eat well and lead healthy lives? Then get them started while they’re still in diapers, a new research publication suggests.

The publication, which can be found in the journal Pediatrics, is based on eleven studies of child eating patterns. The researchers behind the studies examined children under one year of age and six-year-olds. The goal was to see how diets acquired during the first year of life impacted eating patterns as a child aged.

One of the studies showed that children who regularly consumed sugary beverages before age one were twice as likely to drink them on a daily basis once they reached age six. Another study revealed that very young children who consumed sweetened drinks more than three times each week were twice as likely to be obese by the time they reached age six.

Health experts note that parents need to know the importance of devising a healthy diet plan for children under age one. “We don’t do a very good job of teaching parents about good nutrition in infancy,” noted University of Texas School of Public Health director Deanna Hoelscher.

Part of the problem is that young children generally don’t like eating fruits and vegetables and too many parents bend to those preferences. However, one study showed that when parents were firm — meaning they persisted in trying to get children to eat healthy foods — their children acquiesced.

“I do believe in the importance of the early experience,” noted Dr. Catherine Forestell, a psychology professor at the College of William and Mary. Forestall insists that it’s crucial parents not “be deterred by an initial negative response.”

Given these findings, health experts insist it’s important parents introduce their children to fruits and vegetables during late infancy, or between ten and twelve months of age.

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