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October 26, 2020

As the federal government weighs the first-ever dietary guidelines for children under 2, there’s evidence that the food habits of young kids influence their diet—and their health—later on. The science is still nascent and studies are generally small. Research by Dr. Susan Johnson, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Children’s Eating Laboratory at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, and colleagues has found that there is a critical window from between 6 to 12 months of age when children may be most receptive to new foods—including bitter ones. She conducted a study, which is unpublished, where 106 babies and toddlers were offered puréed kale by their caregivers (94% of whom were their mothers). Babies who were about 6 to 12 months old tended to eat the kale, even though many made faces. But toddlers who were about 1 and older were less likely to eat the kale. “It may be that period is a critical window for introducing those harder-to-like foods before rejecting behaviors become so problematic in later toddlerhood.” The study was funded by the Sugar Association, a trade organization that represents the sugar industry. In Dr. Johnson’s study, children were offered four versions of kale purée, one plain, two with small amounts of sugar and one with salt. Dr. Johnson said the children’s differing acceptance of the purée by age was true across all versions.

Read the full article at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-key-to-healthier-adult-diets-healthier-baby-diets-11603746060

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