Background: Diet and feeding patterns during the infant, toddler, and preschool years affect nutrient adequacy or excess during critical developmental periods. Understanding food consumption, feeding practices, and nutrient adequacy or excess during these periods is essential to establishing appropriate recommendations aimed at instilling healthy eating behaviors in children.
Objective: The objective of the 2016 Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS 2016) was to update our knowledge on the diets and feeding patterns of young children and to provide new data in related areas such as feeding behaviors, sleep, physical activity, and screen use. This article describes the study design, data collection methods, 24-h dietary recall (24-h recall) protocol, and sample characteristics of FITS 2016.
Methods: FITS 2016 is a cross-sectional study of caregivers of children aged <4 y living in the 50 states and Washington, DC. Data collection occurred between June 2015 and May 2016. A recruitment interview (respondent and child characteristics, feeding practices, physical activity, screen use, and sleep habits) was completed by telephone or online. This was followed by a feeding practices questionnaire and the 24-h recall conducted by telephone. A second 24-h recall was collected for a random subsample of 25% of the total sampled population.
Results: Among the 4830 recruited households with an age-eligible child, 3248 (67%) completed the 24-h recall. The respondents were more likely to be white, less likely to be Hispanic, and more highly educated than the US population of adults in households with a child <4 y of age. The sample was subsequently calibrated and weighted, and the distribution of respondents was compared with known population distributions.
Conclusions: FITS 2016 provides data based on sound methods that can inform researchers, policymakers, and practitioners about the food and nutrient intakes of young children. New findings may also be compared with previous FITS studies.