Aim: To compare dietary intakes of young children to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) and Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs). Methods: Dietary intakes of 54 children (50% girls) aged two to three years (mean 2.7 years) from the Women and Their Children’s Health (WATCH) study were reported by mothers using a validated 120-item food frequency questionnaire. Daily consumption of AGHE food group servings, macronutrients, and micronutrients were compared to the AGHE and NRVs using t-test with significance set at P < 0.05. Results: No child achieved all AGHE targets, with the majority consuming less breads/cereals (1.9 vs 4.0 servings/ day), vegetables (1.3 vs 2.5), and meat/alternatives (0.7 vs 1.0), all P < 0.0001. Adequate servings were observed for dairy (2.2 vs 1.5) and fruit (1.3 vs 1.0). Macronutrients were within recommended ranges, although 96% exceeded saturated fatty acid recommendations. Children who met selected NRVs consumed more fruit (1.4 vs 1.0; P < 0.0086), dairy (2.2 vs 1.5; P < 0.0001) and discretionary foods (2.6 vs ≤1.0; P < 0.0001) but less breads/cereals (2.0 vs 4.0; P < 0.0001) and vegetables (1.3 vs 2.5; P < 0.0001) servings, compared to the AGHE recommended servings. Conclusions: Child dietary intakes did not align with AGHE, while adequate nutrient profiles were achieved by various dietary patterns. Future studies involving data from larger, representative samples of children are warranted.
Nutrition & Dietetics Vol. 73, Issue 4, p. 312-320