According to several studies in Pediatrics and summarized in NY Times, preventing picky eating habits and developing good diet habits relies on #1) introduction of fruits and vegetables in the first year of life and #2) avoid sugar-sweetened beverages in infancy.
Here is an excerpt of the summary:
The package of 11 studies was published in the journal Pediatrics and was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, among others. Investigators tracked the diets of roughly 1,500 6-year-olds, comparing their eating patterns to those observed in a study that followed them until age 1…
As it turns out, “when infants had infrequent consumption of fruits and vegetables, they also had infrequent consumption at 6,” said Kelley Scanlon, an epidemiologist at the C.D.C. and the senior author of a few of the new studies.
Dr. Scanlon and her colleagues suggested that it is best to interest children in fruits and vegetables by late infancy — roughly between 10 and 12 months old.
Another study in the new series found that babies who consumed any amount of sugar-sweetened beverages were two times more likely to drink them at least once daily at age 6. A third study found that infants ages 10 to 12 months who were given sugar-sweetened beverages more than three times a week were twice as likely to be obese at age 6 than those who consumed none as infants.
Their analysis took into account factors that could skew results, like race, family income and breast-feeding. ..Breast-fed infants are more accepting of new foods than babies who drank the same-tasting formula day after day, research has shown. A C.D.C. study in the new series found that children who were breast-fed were more likely to consume water (versus sugar-sweetened beverages), fruits and vegetables at age 6.
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