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Bell LK, Golley RK, Daniels L, Magarey AM. Dietary patterns of Australian children aged 14 and 24 months, and associations with socio-demographic factors and adiposity. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jun;67(6):638-45.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Previous research has shown, in predominantly European populations, that dietary patterns are evident early in life. However, little is known about early-life dietary patterns in Australian children. We aimed to describe dietary patterns of Australian toddlers and their associations with socio-demographic characteristics and adiposity.
SUBJECTS/METHODS: Principal component analysis was applied to 3 days (1 × 24-h recall and 2 × 24-h record) data of 14 (n=552)- and 24 (n=493)-month-old children from two Australian studies, NOURISH and South Australian Infant Dietary Intake (SAIDI). Associations with dietary patterns were investigated using regression analyses.
RESULTS: Two patterns were identified at both ages. At 14 months, the first pattern was characterised by fruit, grains, vegetables, cheese and nuts/seeds (’14-month core foods’) and the second pattern was characterised by white bread, milk, spreads, juice and ice-cream (‘basic combination’). Similarly, at 24 months the ’24-month core foods’ pattern included fruit, vegetables, dairy, nuts/seeds, meat and water, whereas the ‘non-core foods’ included white bread, spreads, sweetened beverages, snacks, chocolate and processed meat. Lower maternal age and earlier breastfeeding cessation were associated with higher ‘basic combination’ and ‘non-core foods’ pattern scores, whereas earlier and later solid introduction were associated with higher ‘basic combination’ and ’24-month core foods’ pattern scores, respectively. Patterns were not associated with body mass index (BMI) z-score.
CONCLUSIONS: Dietary patterns reflecting core and non-core food intake are identifiable in Australian toddlers. These findings support the need to intervene early with parents to promote healthy eating in children and can inform future investigations on the effects of early diet on long-term health.