Finally, a scientific survey that can be embraced, rather than debunked.
The only downside is that it was published halfway around the world, and thus will generate minimal enthusiasm among parents in the United States.
According to a new study was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, children need to eat more meat. And we’re talking toddlers here—kids 12 to 16 months old. The researchers cautioned that inadequate meat consumption is compromising the iron levels of many youngsters in that crucial growth period, which can be detrimental to good health and proper physiological development.
What the study authors called the current “low-meat trend”—read, “stop eating meat to save the planet!”—has been linked to an increase in the use of infant formula use by a number of health experts. “Parents are substituting formula for baby food with meat, and therefore what is a natural source of iron and other nutrients for children has been a less regular part of their daily diet than ever before,” the authors stated.
The study involved 24-hour dietary data of 550 children aged of 12 and 16 months that were analyzed by researchers from Queensland (Australia) University of Technology. Now, normally dietary recall studies have serious flaws, especially when they occur over time. When people are asked to record what they eaten, they tend to minimize the quantities of “bad” foods they eat, misjudge meal portions and “forget” to include other choices that might reflect badly on the quality of their diets.
Thus, the data from recall studies aren’t always reliable. However, when the subjects are toddler, who are just beginning to eat solid food, parents are extremely conscious of what they’re feeding their children and how much they eat. You’d have to search to find moms or parents of a child who just turned a year old in a position to think that, “I’m not really sure what my baby’s eating—I’ll just guesstimate for purposes of this study.”
Studies of what children are consuming when they’re just learning to eat solid food—which has to be fed to the child—are typically quite accurate.
When diets are critical
In this study, the researchers discovered that as many as one in five children were not getting any meat at all in their daily diets. Of the children who did eat some meat, almost half were not getting quantities, at least by the standards of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, which advises that toddlers should be given 65 grams of cooked lean meats a day (for those who haven’t yet embraced the metric system, that’s about two ounces). Of course, since the kids in question live Down Under, the meats the researchers recommended include “unprocessed forms of beef, kangaroo and lamb.”