Individual patterns of food intake development in children: a 10 months to 8 years of age follow-up study of nutrition and growth

Physiol Behav. 1996 Mar;59(3):403-7. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(95)02011-x.


Individual patterns of food intake development have been investigated on the basis of a longitudinal study of nutrition and growth carried out in 112 children at the ages of 10 months, and 2, 4, 6, and 8 years. On the average, energy intake increased steadily with age. However, individual subjects sometimes followed a different pattern. Approximately 1 out of 5 subjects decreased their intake between two examinations. Besides, less than half the children (43%) were in the same category of energy intake (defined as tertiles) at 10 months and 8 years of age. Similarly, 47% of the children were in the same weight/height (BMI) category at 10 months and 8 years. Correlations computed between early intakes (10 months, and 2, 4, and 6 years) and intakes at 8 years were better for energy and protein intake than for fat and carbohydrates (CHO), showing that intake of energy or protein early in life has a better predictive value of intake at later ages. Energy intake development has been examined in those children who were found to be lean, medium, and fat at the age of 8 years; it increased more between the ages of 4 and 6 years, in children who were fat at 8 years. Individual variations of anthropometric measurements during growth are well documented. The present study points out that similar individual variations of intake also exists. These variations could reflect regulatory processes acting during growth and should be taken into account in investigating the child's appetite.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Eating*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Growth / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins