Are Family Table Foods Appropriate for Infants? Comparing the Nutritional Quality of Homemade Meals Adapted from the Family’s Table Foods and Those Specially Prepared for Infants


The Brazilian Ministry of Health recommends that by 8 months of age, children should eat the same types of foods consumed by the other members of the family. Thus, this study sought to evaluate whether the nutritional composition of meals specially prepared (SM) for children aged 7 to 18 months in low-income families was superior to that of meals adapted (AM) from the family’s table foods. Protein, fat, carbohydrate, energy, dietary fiber, iron, sodium and sodium chloride values, were determined by chemical analyses and compared to dietetic guidelines. The infants’ hemoglobin levels were also investigated. In total, sixty samples of the infants’ lunch meal (51 AM and 9 SM) were taken for during a home visit. The values of protein, fat, carbohydrate, dietary fiber and energy of the AM were significantly lower, while the sodium and sodium chloride values were significantly higher, compared to those of the SM. The AM also contained significantly more water. No differences were seen with regard to iron values. Sodium chloride amounted for most of the sodium content. Neither the SM nor AM was adequate in terms of iron and sodium. All SM were adequate for protein and fat, whereas AM showed significantly more samples with inadequate energy levels. SM fell within the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range, while AM fell below the lower value for fat and slightly above the upper value for carbohydrate. The prevalence of anemia was 60% in the study population (36/60). In conclusion, meals adapted from the family’s table foods showed a lower nutrient density and a less balanced macronutrient range when compared to meals specially prepared for infants. The main nutritional shortcomings, for both AM and SM, were the extremely low content of iron and the high content of sodium.



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