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Proof That U.S. Parents Of Toddlers Need To Step Up Their Nutrition Game

Getting your kid to eat is legally your job, but they often act like they want you to get arrested. The meal time struggle is real and every parent has flown a string-cheese flag and called it “dinner” a few times. But according to researcher Victor Fulgoni and extensive data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (in case you don’t trust a guy who sounds like a pasta brand), winning the battle probably means losing the war. By the time most kids reach their first their first birthday, their diets are as messed up as yours is, and they can’t buy beer yet.

From 2001 to 2012, Fulgoni asked parents and caretakers of 4,406 children under the age of 2 to report what they ate in a 24-hour period. The first 8 months babies consume what they should — breastmilk, formula, and a whole lot of fruit and vegetable mush. But after this, all hell starts to break loose. Of the 30 percent of one-year-olds eating vegetables at all, a majority of them are consuming them in the form of potatoes. Likewise, 40 percent of one-year olds are filling their diets with brownies, cookies, crackers and other salty snacks. This amounts to your kid eating 5 teaspoons of added sugar and more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day — similar to the daily limit nutritionists recommend for a grown man. Your baby isn’t that big yet, although at this rate you’re just asking for it.

Before you freak out, it’s not all bad news. Fulgoni at least found that 60 percent of kids are eating fruit on a given day, and even if that’s sometimes in the form of sugar-laden juice, it’s a start. Toddlers are also still consuming a lot of healthy foods like yogurt, string beans, oatmeal, rice and other healthy staples, so keep doing that and then some. Because that old saw holds true: they are what they eat. Don’t let them eat shit.

[H/T] Washington Post