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Children's Diets Deteriorate Between Ages Two and Eight

Small increases of fruits and vegetables could improve children's dietary quality

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Children's adherence to new U.S. Department of Agriculture food group guidelines decreases as they grow older, according to a report in the August issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Linda L. Knol, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and colleagues assessed food adherence scores in two samples of children, including 2,815 aged 2 to 3 years and 3,769 aged 4 to 8.

The researchers found that older children consumed an increased number of servings from the food groups. But they also found that adherence scores for three of the five major food groups -- total vegetables, total fruits, and meat and beans -- decreased with age.

"These scores suggest that small increases in consumption of total fruit and total vegetables could dramatically improve the dietary quality of the 4- to 8-year-old child," the authors conclude. "Additionally, substitutions of dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables for starchy vegetables and whole grains for non-whole grains could improve dietary quality for the young and older children as measured by the food group adherence scores for these food subgroups."

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