Complementary food: international comparison on protein and energy requirement/intakes.

Carlo Agostoni, Enrica Riva, Marcello Giovannini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The possible role of early dietary habits as the origin of later consequences on health has raised questions on the optimal macronutrient intakes of the growing infant. Infants and toddlers in developed countries usually show a high dietary protein: energy ratio during the complementary feeding period, averaging 2.5-3, because of the protein density of solid weaning foods and the low percentage of mothers still breastfeeding beyond the first 6 months of life. In conditions of very high protein intakes, those in the higher classes of consumption seem to carry a higher risk of becoming obese later on. Over the limit of 14% energy from proteins in the 8- to 24- month period, some mechanisms may begin to operate leading young children towards an early adiposity rebound and overweight development. On the other hand, in many developing countries the only available weaning foods are cereals, with a low protein: energy ratio value. When the protein concentration of weaning foods falls below the limits of human milk (that is, from 1 g/100 kcal to lower levels), the infants' dietary requirements cannot be met. In planning interventions, the coverage of infants' dietary needs through all the various world regions should be considered together with the opportunity not to exceed higher limits.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNestlé Nutrition workshop series. Paediatric programme.
Issue number58
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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