Total Usual Nutrient Intakes of US Children (Under 48 Months): Findings from the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) 2016

J Nutr. 2018 Sep 1;148(9S):1557S-1566S. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxy042.


Background: The US Dietary Guidelines will expand in 2020 to include infants and toddlers. Understanding current dietary intakes is critical to inform policy.

Objective: The purpose of this analysis was to examine the usual total nutrient intakes from diet and supplements among US children.

Methods: The Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study 2016 is a national cross-sectional study of children aged <48 mo (n = 3235): younger infants (birth to 5.9 mo), older infants (6-11.9 mo), toddlers (12-23.9 mo), younger preschoolers (24-36.9 mo), and older preschoolers (36-47.9 mo) based on the use of a 24-h dietary recall. A second 24-h recall was collected from a representative subsample (n = 799). Energy, total nutrient intake distributions, and compliance with Dietary Reference Intakes were estimated with the use of the National Cancer Institute method.

Results: Dietary supplement use was 15-23% among infants and toddlers and 35-45% among preschoolers. Dietary intakes of infants were adequate, with mean intakes exceeding Adequate Intake for all nutrients except vitamins D and E. Iron intakes fell below the Estimated Average Requirement for older infants (18%). We found that 31-33% of children aged 12-47.9 mo had low percentage of energy from total fat, and >60% of children aged 24-47.9 mo exceeded the saturated fat guidelines. The likelihood of nutrient inadequacy for many nutrients was higher for toddlers: 3.2% and 2.5% greater than the Adequate Intake for fiber and potassium and 76% and 52% less than the Estimated Average Requirement for vitamins D and E, respectively. These patterns continued through older ages. Intakes exceeded the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of sodium, retinol, and zinc across most age groups.

Conclusions: Dietary intakes of US infants are largely nutritionally adequate; concern exists over iron intakes in those aged 6-11.9 mo. For toddlers and preschoolers, high intake of sodium and low intakes of potassium, fiber, and vitamin D and, for preschoolers, excess saturated fat are of concern. Excess retinol, zinc, and folic acid was noted across most ages, especially among supplement users.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Health*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements / statistics & numerical data
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Health*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Nutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • United States


  • Micronutrients
  • Iron