• Article

Nutritional status of infants and young children and characteristics of their diets

Adoption of the recommended breast-feeding and complementary feeding behaviors and access to the appropriate quality and quantity of foods are essential components of optimal nutrition for infants and young children between ages 6 and 24 mo. Iron, zinc and vitamin B-6 are deficient in complementary food diets in Bangladesh, Ghana, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru. Low intakes of iron are consistent with a high prevalence of anemia seen in this age group. The adequacy of observed intakes for calcium, vitamin A, thiamin, folate and vitamin C depends on the age range in question and the set of requirements used in the assessment. The lipid content of many complementary food diets is low. In addition to providing essential fatty acids, lipids are needed for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and also enhance the texture, flavor and aroma of foods, which may lead to increased intake. The relative roles of palatability, micronutrient deficiency and morbidity-induced anorexia in the appetite of infants and young children are not known. However, even among children who were growth retarded and had a total energy deficit compared with requirements, up to 25% of food offered was not consumed. This indicates that dietary quality rather than quantity is the key aspect of complementary food diets that needs to be improved. Targeted fortification or the production of complementary foods fortified with micronutrients and of an adequate macro- and micronutrient composition is one approach to help meet nutritional requirements during the vulnerable period of 6-24 mo.


Lutter, C. K., & Rivera, J. A. (2003). Nutritional status of infants and young children and characteristics of their diets. Journal of Nutrition, 133(9), 2941S-9S.