Proper nutrition early in life can influence children’s present and future health. While several authoritative sources provide eating/food recommendations, only a few studies have assessed whether these recommendations are followed. The goal of this paper was to examine food and nutrient intakes on any given day during infancy and early childhood among various ethnicities. Twenty-four-hour dietary recall data of 0–5 years-old children (n
= 2431) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011–2014 was used to estimate intakes of nutrients and food groups and prevalence of inadequate intake. Data was analyzed separately for various age groups and ethnicities, and differences in means by age and or race/ethnicity were determined by t
-tests with p
< 0.05 as significant. The results indicate that intakes of all food groups were expectedly low at 0–11 months, increased with age, and were influenced by race/ethnicity. Mixed dish consumption, which also increased with age, made substantial contributions to children’s food group intakes. However, there was a substantial percentage of the population among all age and race/ethnic groups who did not consume the recommended amounts for each food group and had inadequate intakes of key nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin E. Non-Hispanic black children consumed less dairy and more protein foods, and a significantly greater proportion of these children had inadequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D compared to their peers. In conclusion, the results from this study suggest that a substantial population of American infants and children from 0 to five years of age did not meet food group recommendations and had inadequate intakes of key nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin E from foods.
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