Purpose: Healthy eating during early childhood is important for growth and development. Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide (CFG) provides dietary recommendations. We investigated patterns of food consumption among preschool children and attempted to determine whether these children's intakes met nutrition recommendations.
Methods: Between 2005 and 2007, four- and five-year-old children (n=2015) attending 12 Edmonton-region public health units for immunization were recruited for a longitudinal study on determinants of childhood obesity. The children's dietary intake at baseline was assessed using parental reports.
Results: Overall, 29.6%, 23.5%, 90.9%, and 94.2% of the children met recommendations for vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, and meat and alternatives, respectively. In addition, 79.5% consumed at least one weekly serving of foods in the "choose least often" group. Significant differences existed in consumption of food groups across socioeconomic and demographic groups. For example, 82.9%, 84.7%, and 75.9% of preschool children from neighbourhoods of low, medium, and high socioeconomic status, respectively, consumed at least one food in the "choose least often" group (χ² =16.2, p<0.001).
Conclusions: Consumption of vegetables and fruit and grain products was low among participants, and intake of "choose least often" foods was high. Consumption of foods also differed among socioeconomic and demographic groups. To encourage healthy eating among children, public health professionals should target groups who do not meet the CFG recommendations.