Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Babies Get Early Start on Fast Food Diet

Toddlers Already Eating Too Many French Fries, Sweets
WebMD Health News

Oct. 27, 2003 -- Even before they learn to walk, many American children are well on their way to developing bad eating habits that are startling similar to those that plague adults: too much fat, sugar, and salt, and too little fruits and vegetables.

A new study shows that infants and toddlers are already getting too many calories and eating inappropriate foods such as pizza, soda, and French fries before their second birthday.

In fact, the survey of more than 3,000 infants and toddlers from 4 to 24 months old found that French fries are the most commonly eaten vegetable for toddlers aged 15 to 24 months, and soda is being served to infants as young as 7 months old.

Researchers say a 1- to 2-year-old infant needs about 950 calories a day, but the survey found the average calorie intake of toddlers in this age group was 1,220. That's an average of 270 calories more than they need.

An overview of the survey findings was presented this week at the American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo in San Antonio, Texas. The complete results are scheduled for publication in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

The survey was conducted in 2002 by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. and funded by Gerber.

Feeding Recommendations Ignored

Researchers found many of the current recommendations for feeding infants and toddlers issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are currently being ignored.

For example:

  • 29% of infants ate solid foods before the recommended age range of 4 to 6 months
  • 17% drank juices before the recommended 6 months
  • 20% drank cow's milk (rather than formula or breast milk) before the recommended 12 months

The AAP recommends that cow's milk be introduced to infants after 12 months and that low-fat dairy products be introduced after two years because fat is needed for healthy development early on. But the survey found that 35% of toddlers 19 to 24 months old were already drinking skim or reduced-fat milk.

In addition, researchers also found other potentially dangerous eating habits that could increase the risk of obesity and other health problems among toddlers and infants:

  • Nearly 25% of 19- to 24-month-old babies are not eating a single fruit or vegetable in a day.
  • Half of 7 to 8 month olds eat desserts or salty snacks or drink sweetened beverages.
  • A quarter of toddlers 19 to 24 months old eat hot dogs, bacon, or sausage once a day, and more than one in 10 eat pizza on a daily basis.

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow