The weaning diet of healthy Asian children living in Sheffield. 1. The level and composition of the diet in children from 4 to 40 months of age


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A cross sectional study was made of the weighed dietary intake of healthy Asian weanlings aged 4–40 months and living in Sheffield. A weighed 4–(5)-day dietary inventory was recorded by means of the PETRA recording balance; anthropometric measurements were made, and iron status determined by haematological testing: 194 children were recruited from child-health clinics, and 120 diet records were reliably completed. Linguistic communication was facilitated by three Asian Link workers.

Dietary composition was calculated from a standard food composition programme (Microdiet) with an extended nutrient data base. The mean daily intake of energy, protein and fat, iron and vitamin C was calculated according to age (and sex) grouped into 3-monthly age brackets from 4 to 24 months and 6-monthly thereafter. The mean energy intakes were compared with the FAO/WHO/UNU (1985) and Department of Health (1991) reference data; individual energy intakes were also expressed as ratios of the estimated basal metabolic rate (Black et al., 1991).

In older age groups, the mean level of energy intake was lower than FAO/WHO/UNU (1985) recommendations but reasonably close to recommendations based on experimental measurements of energy expenditure (Prentice et al., 1988). When energy intake was expressed as a ratio of estimated BMR [Black et al., 1991), the mode lay between BMR+ 1.25 and BMR+ 1.5.

The contribution of protein and of fat to the total energy intake was acceptable. At all ages <6 months, the mean intake of iron was lower than the estimated average requirement and below or close to the lower reference nutrient intake [DOH, 1991). The mean intake of vitamin C decreased with increasing age. Milk was a major energy source at all ages and supplied >50% total energy in all age groups <18 months. The observed mean weight and length at each age group suggested that the customary dietary intake had supported reasonable growth.

The percentage of dietary energy provided by protein and fat was acceptable at all ages. The observed low intake of dietary iron, largely from non-haem sources, were associated with a high (34%) prevalence of iron deficiency in these otherwise healthy children (Duggan et al., 1991).