Objective: To investigate food and nutrient intakes in 3-year-old children.
Subjects: Eight hundred and sixty-three children resident in South West England (69% of those invited at this age), a randomly selected sub-sample of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ALSPAC).
Methods: Diet was assessed using a 3-day descriptive food record. Food and nutrient intakes were compared with intakes at 18 months in the same children, with intakes in the British National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) of pre-school children, and with dietary reference values (DRVs).
Results: Intakes of energy and most nutrients had increased between 18 and 43 months. The macronutrient content of the diet had also changed, the percentage of energy from starch rose from 21 to 23% and from non-milk extrinsic (NME) sugar from 12 to 16%, while the polyunsaturated to saturated fat ratio increased from 0.26 to 0.33. When compared with the NDNS, intakes of energy and all nutrients were higher with the exception of NME sugar. Energy intakes were below the estimated average requirements. Mean intakes of iron and vitamin D were below the Reference Nutrient Intake. Fewer children were eating beef at 43 months than at 18 months. Total daily meat consumption was lower than in the NDNS. The proportion of children consuming any vegetables dropped between 18 and 43 months, although fruit eating remained constant.
Conclusions: The diets of 3-year-olds in this study were adequate in most nutrients. Our results suggest that energy requirements of pre-school children in the 1990s are less than the DRV. Nutrient and food intakes changed between 18 and 43 months. Children were eating less meat than their counterparts in the NDNS.