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The role and requirements of digestible dietary carbohydrates in infants and toddlers

By A Stephen, M Alles, C de Graaf, M Fleith, E Hadjilucas, E Isaacs, C Maffeis, G Zeinstra, C Matthys and A Gil

Abstract

Digestible carbohydrates are one of the main sources of dietary energy in infancy and childhood and are essential for growth and development. The aim of this narrative review is to outline the intakes of digestible carbohydrates and their role in health and disease, including the development of food preferences, as well the consequences of excess carbohydrate. Key experts in these fields provided up-to-date reviews of the literature. A search of available information on dietary intakes of children below the age of 4 years was conducted from 1985 up to 2010. Articles and reports including information about sugars and/or starch intakes were selected. A number of factors limit the ability to obtain an overall picture of carbohydrate intakes and food sources in this age group. These include small numbers of intake studies, differing approaches to analysing carbohydrate, a variety of terms used to describe sugars intakes and a dearth of information about starch intakes. Data suggest that sweet taste is preferred in infancy and later food choices. There are few established adverse consequences of high intakes of digestible carbohydrate for young children. The greatest evidence is for dental caries, although this is influenced by high intake frequency and poor oral hygiene. Evidence for detrimental effects on nutrient dilution, obesity, diabetes or cognition is limited. In infants, minimum carbohydrate (mainly lactose) intake should be 40% of total energy, gradually increasing to 55% energy by the age of 2 years

Topics: Review
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:3390559
Provided by: PubMed Central
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