99.9 per cent of children under two consume an excess of protein each day, with the average child eating nearly three times what they should.

Toddlers are consuming two-thirds more calories than the recommended daily limit – putting them at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes in later life.

The Daily Mail reports, a fifth of children are overweight when they start primary school, and a third by the time they leave. But experts are worried that if parents continue to feed their children poorly from an early age the crisis will get even worse.

The researchers from University College London and Oxford and Bristol universities said protein consumption is so high because parents are giving their toddlers too much milk, yoghurt and other dairy products. Once children are weaned on to solids they should not drink too much cow’s milk or formula. But the team found that at 21 months, the average British toddler was getting a quarter of its calories from cow’s milk. The NHS advises they should not get more than 600ml – a little over a pint – a day.

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Lead author Hayley Syrad, of UCL’s Health Behaviour Research Centre, said children’s diets are a ‘cause for concern’, adding: ‘Dietary preferences and habits are established during the first two years of life and what we eat in early life can have an enduring impact on our health.’

The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, looked at data for 2,336 children. It found that average daily calorie intake ‘significantly exceeded’ the recommended 968 limit, with 63 per cent of children consuming too many at an average of 1,035. At 40g a day, protein intake was nearly three times higher than the recommended 15g, while fibre intake was 8g – half that recommended.

Dr Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England, said: ‘Obese children are much more likely to become obese adults who are prone to serious illnesses like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

‘We all need to help toddlers get into good eating and drinking habits… including five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, oily fish and starchy foods while limiting sugary, salty and fatty foods and drinks.’

Izzi Seccombe of the Local Government Association, which is responsible for public health for young children, said: ‘Obesity can begin at birth, with increasing evidence that what happens during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can have a big impact on how… they grow up and into adulthood. Intervention at a young age is vital.’

Nutrition Australia recommends, eating 3 serves of dairy every day as part of a healthy, balanced diet will provide most people with their daily calcium requirements. Calcium is one of the 10 essential nutrients naturally found in significant quantities in dairy foods.

One serve of dairy is:

•1 glass (250mL) of milk
•1 tub (200g) of yogurt
•2 slices (40g) of cheese

Eat for health recommend children under three only require 1-1.5 serves of dairy per day.

Under eleven years children require 2 – 2.5 serves of dairy per day.

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  • an interesting read for sure!


  • An interesting article providing mums with knowledge and information.


  • Mine loves dairy but consumption goes up and down depending on what she wants to eat. No excess weight. All things in moderation.


  • No more than 600ml per day??!! That still seems like an awful lot of milk! Mind you… Order a children’s milkshake from a cafe, and you end up with at least 500ml straight up… Not to mention all the added sugars and fats from the syrup and ice-cream. Lol. No wonder parents aren’t sure what the right way is, though, with all of the conflicting information on the internet. :/ Makes it difficult for new parents to navigate. Thank you for sharing. :)


  • This is interesting. Such a challenge to get young kids into healthy eating habits.


  • My kids are now older and not one of them is over weight.
    The eldest was breast fed until she was about 14mths and then had cows milk until she was 18mths.
    Middle child was breast fed until she was a year old and drank loads of cows milk until she about 5 years old.
    The youngest was breast fed until she was 9mths old and then had cows milk until she was about 3.



  • It all sounds good in theory. I wonder if these so called experts have actually had a fussy kid themselves? Most times we’re just happy that they eat anything. I guess the saying ‘everything in moderation’ is still true too though.


  • I didn’t know under 3s require only 1-1/12 serves of dairy… That’s not actually much. Our ‘cup’ of milk is so small it’s definitely less than one serve though


  • I can’t see where the difference between calories and protein is explained.
    There is calories in food that don’t contain any protein at all.


  • I’m just happy when my fussy eaters have a good balanced intake. It’s a daily struggle.


  • Portion control is the key at any age.


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