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Australian Dietary Guidelines submission

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General comments

It is great to see an update to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, but do not agree that specific serves should be recommended for children under two years of age, as outlined in "Recommended dietary patterns for toddlers aged 13-23 months" and "Recommended dietary patterns for infants aged 7-12 months".  Even though this section starts with a disclaimer to interpret this information with caution, parents and health professionals will take these figures as "gospel" and children will be judged as not eating enough if they do not consume the amounts outlined here.  We know that typically developing children have the ability to self-regulate their intake, based on their energy needs for growth.  This combined with a slowing of growth in the second year, the emergence of neophobia and the development of autonomy and independence, mean that food refusal in todders in common.  Many parents worry about their toddler being a fussy eater, or being underweight, depsite this being a part of normal development.  The guidelines as they stand may inadvertently encourage parents to pressure their child to eat.  These feeding practices can overide a child's internal cues of hunger and satiety, contributing to the development of overweight and obesity.

If specific serving sizes are to be included (and I would prefer not), then practical tips on how to be sensitive to children's innate cues of hunger and satiety is essential.  This information is needed equally for parents and health professionals.

Page reviewed: 3 January, 2013