Diet quality in the early years


A good way to represent ‘health’ in a picture is to use a mosaic. From far away you can see the whole image, but up close you see that the image is made up of many tiles.

This example shows the complex nature of health; it is the result of many ‘tiles’ including good nutrition, physical activity and environment. For children, putting together the tiles is even more complex, as many decisions are made by parents and health status has to be developed and maintained. This GFVN issue shows the complexity of building positive and healthy eating habits, balancing genetic background (the tiles) and the environment (the glue).

The result of this complex mosaic is not only better nutritional status, but, as stated in the article by Anett Nyaradi and colleagues, a much higher level of academic achievement. The study finds that good nutrition until at least 17 years of age is essential for academic performance.

Obviously, the earlier we focus on nutrition, the better the result in terms of quality of life and embedding positive behaviours. This concept is examined in the paper written by Martine Padilla. It is demonstrated that widening the foods offered during pregnancy, weaning and subsequent ages, can modify children’s food preferences.

The battle to develop healthy eating habits cannot end in the home environment. The paper by Roohi Kharofa examines best practice at meal times in care centers to promote healthy food consumption. Once again the role modeling of significant adults and exposure to healthy foods are essential in promoting positive eating habits.

In the end, even though we have already glued many tiles onto the mosaic to promote health for our children, we still have to work patiently to make sure that the glue sets, to bring out the beautiful picture. All this work for the most wonderful result: the health of our children.

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