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Dr. Vivek Sharma participates in 7th Asia Pacific Nutrition Symposium on Early Life Nutrition

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By Our Health Correspondent

New Delhi: Jaipur-based Pediatrician Dr. Vivek Sharma recently participated in the group discussion and expressed his views on complementary feeding during 7th Asia Pacific Nutrition Symposium on Early Life Nutrition held in Guangzhou, China, on 1st and 2nd June 2013.

During the group discussion on "Pre-term infants feeding and complementary feeding", Dr. Sharma elaborated his views and enlightened the participating nutritional experts from across the world.

Dr. Vivek Sharma, who is also Health Editor with IndianMuslimObserver.com, spoke on the topic "Complementary feeding: A journey into a sensory world".

Dr. Sharma elaborated thus: "Preferences for the taste of sweet have been observed shortly after birth and young children show the capacity to readily form preferences for the flavors of energy rich foods. Acceptance of other foods, however, is not immediate and may occur only after 8 to 10 exposures to those foods in a non-coercive manner. Many parents are not aware of the lengthy but normal course of food acceptance in young children approximately 25% of mothers with toddlers reported offering new foods only 1 or 2 times before deciding whether the child liked it, and approximately half made similar judgments after serving new foods 3 to 5 times. Touching, smelling and playing with new foods as well as putting them in the mouth and spitting them back out are normal exploratory behaviors that precede acceptance and even willingness to taste and swallow foods. Beginning around 2 years of age, children become characteristically resistant to consuming new foods, and sometimes dietary variety diminishes to 4 or 5 wellaccepted favorites. It should be stressed to families that children's failure to immediately accept new foods is a normal stage of child development that is called as Neophobia (repulsion to new food), although potentially frustrating, can be dealt with effectively with knowledge, consistency, and patience."

He further stated: "Although toddlers are in a generally explorative phase, they can go on food "jags," during which certain foods are preferentially consumed to the exclusion of others. Parents who become concerned when a "good eater" in infancy becomes a "fair to poor" eater as a toddler should be reassured that this change in acceptance is developmentally typical. During starting the complementary feeding all concerned persons should keep in mind the economic, religious, cultural and spiritual status of the family."

The participants unamimously concluded thus: "Complementary feeding is a transition process between consuming a unique food, milk, to varied family foods. During this time, the diet gets progressively diversified. Because complementary feeding drives the infant towards his/her family's diet, it incorporates, consciously or not, many beliefs about appropriate eating behaviors concerning what, when and how to eat. At this stage, nutrition is still critical for child development, moreover early eating habits will contribute to the development of subsequent eating habits. For these reasons, it is very important to understand the learning processes that occur concurrently with complementary feeding."

Prominent nutritional experts from other countries who expressed their views included Dr. Sophie Nicklaus, Dijon, France; Professor Yvan Vandenplas, Brussels, Belgium; Professor Berthold Koletzko, University of Munich, Germany; Professor Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Karachi, Pakistan; and Professor Allan Walker, Boston, USA.
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