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There is currently no standard, objective definition of selective eating. This is partially because normative values for the number of different foods eaten by US children have not been established. The present study objectives were to: (i) perform exploratory analysis on the number of different foods, beverages, and total foods and beverages consumed by US children aged 2–18 years over a year’s time, and the types of foods consumed by those in the lowest 2·5th percentile; and (ii) determine whether those values differ according to demographic variables and weight status.
Secondary analysis of cross-sectional FFQ data. Differences in number of foods, beverages, and total foods and beverages were analysed using one-way ANOVA.
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for the years 2003–2006.
Non-institutionalized US children aged 2–18 years.
The mean number of different foods and beverages consumed across the sample was 83·2. There were no significant differences by gender, BMI, race or food security categories. There was a difference in beverage consumption by age category, with children aged 12–18 years consuming a significantly higher number of different beverages compared with each of the other two age categories (i.e. 2–5 years and 6–11 years).
Normative values for the number of foods and drinks reported as consumed by children over the past 12 months may be a useful measure for researchers. Future research validating this measure is needed before cut-off values can be used to develop a definition of selective eating.
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