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Parents’ Perceptions and Adherence to Children’s Diet and Activity Recommendations: the 2008 Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study
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    Prev Chronic Dis
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    Solving the childhood obesity problem will require strategies for changes in policy, the environment, the community, and the family. Filling the data gap for children younger than 4 years could facilitate interventions aimed at this critical age group. The objective of this study was to describe parents’ and caregivers’ perceptions of the healthfulness of their young child’s diet and body weight and to assess their adherence to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 5-2-1-0 recommendations.


    We conducted a descriptive analysis of parents’ and caregivers’ survey data for 887 infants younger than 12 months, 925 toddlers aged 12 to 23.9 months, and 1,461 preschoolers aged 24 to 47.9 months. Data were from the national, cross-sectional 2008 Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS).


    Most parents considered their child’s weight to be about right but were more likely to think their child was underweight (8%–9%) than overweight (2%–3%). Most parents thought their child consumed enough fruits and vegetables: however, only 30% of preschoolers met the recommendation for 5 daily servings. Only 2% of toddlers met the recommendation for no screen time, whereas 79% of preschoolers met the recommendation to limit daily screen time to 2 hours or less. About 56% of toddlers and 71% of preschoolers met the recommendation of at least 1 hour of daily outdoor play. About 56% of toddlers and 52% of preschoolers met the recommendation to limit consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.


    The FITS 2008 findings underscore the ongoing need for research on policies and strategies to prevent childhood obesity from infancy through preschool. Health care providers can play a vital role because they are an important and early point of contact for parents.

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