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Fruit and vegetable intakes, sources and contribution to total diet in very young children (1–4 years): the Irish National Pre-School Nutrition Survey

O'Connor, LM and walton, J and Flynn, A (2016) Fruit and vegetable intakes, sources and contribution to total diet in very young children (1–4 years): the Irish National Pre-School Nutrition Survey. British Journal of Nutrition, 115 (12). pp. 2196-2202. ISSN 1475-2662

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Abstract

Although the importance of fruit and vegetable (F&V) intakes in the prevention of chronic diseases is well established, there are limited data on intakes in very young children. This study estimates F&V intakes and sources and the contribution to the total diet using data from the National Pre-School Nutrition Survey, a nationally representative sample (n 500) of Irish children aged 1–4 years. A 4-d weighed food record was used to collect food intake data. Of 1652 food codes consumed, 740 had a fruit/vegetable component. The percentage of edible fruits and/or vegetables in each food code was calculated. Intakes (g/d), sources (g/d) and the contribution of F&V to the weight of the total diet (%) were estimated, split by age. All children consumed F&V. Intakes of total fruits, in particular fruit juice, increased with age. The contribution to total fruit intake was discrete fruits (47–56 % range across age), 100 % fruit juice, smoothies and pureés (32–45 %) as well as fruits in composite dishes (7–13 %). Total vegetable intake comprised of discrete vegetables (48–62 % range across age) and vegetables in composite dishes (38–52 %). F&V contributed on average 20 % (15 % fruit; 5 % vegetables) to the weight of the total diet and was <10 % in sixty-one children (12 %). F&V contributed 50 % of vitamin C, 53 % of carotene, 34 % of dietary fibre and 42 % of non-milk sugar intakes from the total diet. F&V are important components of the diet of Irish pre-school children; however, some aspects of F&V intake patterns could be improved in this age group.

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