Protein intake pattern in non-breastfed infants and toddlers: A survey in a nationally representative sample of French children

Jean Pierre Chouraqui, Dominique Darmaun, Aurée Salmon-Legagneur, Raanan Shamir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims: Protein intake plays a key role in infants and children's growth, but high protein intake may have adverse long-term effects. Data on actual intakes in various populations are scarce. The aims of this study were (i) to assess daily protein intake (DPI) in non-breastfed infants and children aged 0.5–35 months in comparison with the population reference intake (PRI) set by the European Food Safety Authority, and to examine (ii) the various sources of this intake and their consumption patterns, and (iii) time-related changes in DPI over the last 4 decades. Methods: Data from the Nutri-Bébé cross-sectional survey were used to assess DPI, DPI/kg BW and the protein-energy ratio (E%) by age group. The amounts and quality of each food consumed were recorded over three non-consecutive days and validated by two face-to-face interviews. Results: Overall, this study included 1035 children. Median DPI were consistently above the PRI, reaching 4 times PRI in the older toddlers (41.4 g/d; range 15.1–64.0). Regardless of age, more than 95% of children had a DPI/kg BW above the PRI. Protein intake remained below 14 E% until 6 months of age and increased thereafter from 10% to 75% in children older than one year. Overall, DPI gradually decreased from 1981 to 2013. Milk and dairy products were the main contributors to DPI up to 2 years, while the share of other animal sources became predominant later. Plant contribution remained below 25% of DPI. Conclusion: Despite a gradual decrease over the last few decades, DPI have remained well above the PRI. As the predominant contributors to these intakes are animal sources, the potential long term health consequences of such high intake deserve consideration. Clinical Trial Registry number: NCT03327415 on

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-278
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Animal protein
  • Infant
  • Plant protein
  • Protein intake
  • Protein sources
  • Toddlers


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