Many Australian toddlers are not eating enough meat and it may be compromising their iron levels, a new study has revealed. Researchers have linked this to an overconsumption of formula and cow's milk.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating suggests toddlers eat 65g of cooked lean meats, such as beef, lamb and kangaroo, a day. For the study, researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) examined the diets of more than 550 kids aged between 12 and 16 months over 24 hours.
AdvertisementResults of the study show that one in five toddlers did not eat meat and almost half of those who did ate less than 30 grams. According to Rebecca Byrne of QUT's institute of health and biomedical innovation, too much dependence of formula and milk led to toddlers feeling full and refusing to consume a diverse range of foods.
The study discovered only 56% of the toddlers ate all five food groups: fruit, vegetables, cereals, meat and dairy. "There are not as many kids as we would like having enough fruit and vegies - and the meat area was a big issue. They're not eating enough meat or high-quality meat as we would recommend," she said.
Byrne noted that diet was critical for children aged one to two years. "It's an important developmental age when kids make the transition from a milk-based diet in infancy to a mixed diet of family meals," she added.
Iron deficiency in toddlers can result in behavioural issues, lethargy, repeat infections and a failure to grow at the expected rate