Tracking of dietary intakes in early childhood: the Melbourne InFANT Program

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Mar;67(3):275-81. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2012.218. Epub 2013 Jan 16.


Background/objectives: The objectives of the present study were to describe food and nutrient intakes in children aged 9 and 18 months, and to assess tracking of intakes between these two ages.

Subjects/methods: Participants were 177 children of first-time mothers from the control arm of the Melbourne Infant Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial (InFANT) Program. Dietary intake was collected at 9 and 18 months using three 24 h diet recalls. Tracking was assessed for food and nutrient intakes using logistic regression analysis and estimating partial correlation coefficients, respectively.

Results: Although overall nutrient intakes estimated in this study did not indicate a particular risk of nutrient deficiency, our findings suggest that consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods occurred as early as 9 months of age, with some of these foods tracking highly over the weaning period. Intakes of healthier foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, fish and water were also relatively stable over this transition from infancy to toddlerhood, along with moderate tracking for riboflavin, iodine, fibre, calcium and iron. Tracking was low but close to ρ=0.3 for zinc, magnesium and potassium intakes.

Conclusions: The tracking of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods has important implications for public health, given the development of early eating behaviours is likely to be modifiable. At this stage of life, dietary intakes are largely influenced by the foods parents provide, parental feeding practices and modelling. This study supports the importance of promoting healthy dietary trajectories from infancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Australasia
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dairy Products
  • Diet
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Eggs
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food*
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables
  • Weaning


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Micronutrients