The feeding infants and toddlers Study (FITS) 2016: Study design and methods

Andrea S. Anater, Diane J. Catellier, Burton A. Levine, Karol P. Krotki, Emma F. Jacquier, Alison L. Eldridge, Katherine E. Bronstein, Lisa J. Harnack, Julia M. Lorenzana Peasley, Anne C. Lutes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background: Diet and feeding patterns during the infant, toddler, and preschool years affect nutrient adequacy or excess during critical developmental periods. Understanding food consumption, feeding practices, and nutrient adequacy or excess during these periods is essential to establishing appropriate recommendations aimed at instilling healthy eating behaviors in children. Objective: The objective of the 2016 Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS 2016) was to update our knowledge on the diets and feeding patterns of young children and to provide new data in related areas such as feeding behaviors, sleep, physical activity, and screen use. This article describes the study design, data collection methods, 24-h dietary recall (24-h recall) protocol, and sample characteristics of FITS 2016. Methods: FITS 2016 is a cross-sectional study of caregivers of children aged <4 y living in the 50 states and Washington, DC. Data collection occurred between June 2015 and May 2016. A recruitment interview (respondent and child characteristics, feeding practices, physical activity, screen use, and sleep habits) was completed by telephone or online. This was followed by a feeding practices questionnaire and the 24-h recall conducted by telephone. A second 24-h recall was collected for a random subsample of 25% of the total sampled population. Results: Among the 4830 recruited households with an age-eligible child, 3248 (67%) completed the 24-h recall. The respondents weremore likely to be white, less likely to be Hispanic, andmore highly educated than the US population of adults in households with a child <4 y of age. The samplewas subsequently calibrated andweighted, and the distribution of respondents was compared with known population distributions. Conclusions: FITS 2016 provides data based on sound methods that can inform researchers, policymakers, and practitioners about the food and nutrient intakes of young children. New findings may also be compared with previous FITS studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1516S-1524S
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Published in a supplement to The Journal of Nutrition. Select contents of this supplement were presented at the Experimental Biology 2017 conference in a session titled, “Informing B-24 Dietary Guidelines: Findings from the New Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study 2016,” held in Chicago, IL, April 22, 2017. Supplement Coordinators were William Dietz, Milken School of Public Health at the George Washington University and Andrea S. Anater, RTI International. The FITS research was funded by the Nestle Research Centre (Lausanne, Switzerland) through a contract with RTI International and its subcontractor, the University of Minnesota. Dr. Dietz is a compensated consultant to RTI on this project. The article contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Nestle. Publication costs for this supplement were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This publication must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 USC section 1734 solely to indicate this fact. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and are not attributable to the sponsors or the publisher, Editor, or Editorial Board of The Journal of Nutrition. Supported by Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne Switzerland. Author disclosure: EFJ and ALE are employees of the Nestlé Research Center (the funding source); ASA, DJC, BAL, KPK, KEB, LJH, JMLP, and ACL, no conflicts of interest. Address correspondence to ASA (e-mail: Abbreviations used: CATI, computer-aided telephone interviewing; FITS, Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study; NDSR, Nutrient Data System for Research; QA, quality assurance; QC, quality control; SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; WIC, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; 24-h recall, 24-h dietary recall interview.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Society for Nutrition.


  • FITS 2016
  • Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study
  • food intakes eating habits
  • nutrient intakes
  • nutritional epidemiology
  • young children


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