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From The CriticsReviewer: Alexandra K Adams, MD, PhD (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Description: This book is the result of a pediatric roundtable on healthy eating behaviors in children during the first 5 years of life. The book is organized into four sections: nutritional influences on growth and development; cultural and parenting influences; delivery systems, and a summary. Each section contains a set of abstracts as a preface to the chapters, which is quite useful in choosing which selections to read. The authors of each chapter address a variety of factors that influence early eating patterns in children that contribute to obesity and other chronic diseases. Factors such as breastfeeding and cultural influences are covered. The book shares a few insights into interventions but does not review the intervention literature in detail.
Purpose: The goal of the roundtable was to review current knowledge about the development of healthy eating behaviors and to select and effectively communicate a set of evidence-based messages for health and child care professionals to promote healthy eating from before birth to 5 years. This book is an important contribution to this literature as it is the first of its type and provides a good review of the early influences on child eating behaviors. While a number of very important themes arose from the roundtable discussion and are reviewed in this book, it does not provide the practitioner with tools needed to work with families. These tools are still in development. Thus, the book is a worthwhile review for researchers and professionals, but is not useful as a guide to practice.
Audience: It is written for healthcare professionals, researchers, public health practitioners, and childcare professionals. It was sponsored by the Johnson and Johnson Pediatric Institute, L.L.C. Foundation and the American Academy of Pediatrics. It will be most useful to healthcare professionals, pediatric researchers, and public health professionals. Practicing physicians will find this book useful for learning/review but not to guide practice. The editors are experts in this field and they have assembled an excellent array of authors.
Features: The book covers the development of the young child, including normal growth and obesity in two excellent early chapters. It also covers important issues such as the influence of breastfeeding, food preferences, cultural influences, and issues with our current food environment. Areas that are particularly well covered include measuring normal growth and a chapter on obesity in young children which also does an excellent job of reviewing risk factors and the few positive intervention studies in young children. The chapter on breastfeeding and early influences, also excellent, contains useful lessons learned and counseling strategies. Section 2, on cultural and parenting influences, contains lessons from the lab as well as new information from the FITS Study. However, the chapter on race and ethnicity suffers from a lack of cross-cultural information from American Indian studies as well as those done in other countries. Overall, the book would have greatly benefited from a summary of lessons learned, research needed, and tips for practitioners at the end of each section or at the end of the book. Such a summary would have made for a more cohesive presentation and would have been more useful to the reader. It would also make it seem more like a book and less like a collection of useful reviews.
Assessment: This is a collection of high quality articles reviewing an important area, early childhood eating behavior. It explores a number of crucial themes that affect the development of child eating habits and will be a useful addition to the library of health researchers and public health practitioners.