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Predictors of Dietary Energy Density among Preschool Aged Children

Fernando, Nilmani N.T., Campbell, Karen J., McNaughton, Sarah A., Zheng, Miaobing, Lacy, Kathleen E.
Nutrients 2018 v.10 no.2
child nutrition, childhood obesity, dairy beverages, diet recall, energy density, food availability, food intake, fruits, healthy eating habits, infant feeding, mothers, nutrition knowledge, preschool children, questionnaires, regression analysis, snacks, socioeconomic status, Victoria (Australia)
Childhood obesity is a global problem with many contributing factors including dietary energy density (DED). This paper aims to investigate potential predictors of DED among preschool aged children in Victoria, Australia. Secondary analysis of longitudinal data for 209 mother–child pairs from the Melbourne Infant Feeding, Activity and Nutrition Trial was conducted. Data for predictors (maternal child feeding and nutrition knowledge, maternal dietary intake, home food availability, socioeconomic status) were obtained through questionnaires completed by first-time mothers when children were aged 4 or 18 months. Three 24-h dietary recalls were completed when children were aged ~3.5 years. DED was calculated utilizing three methods: “food only”, “food and dairy beverages”, and “food and all beverages”. Linear regression analyses were conducted to identify associations between predictors and these three measures of children’s DED. Home availability of fruits (β: −0.82; 95% CI: −1.35, −0.29, p = 0.002 for DED<inf>food</inf>; β: −0.42; 95% CI: −0.82, −0.02, p = 0.041 for DED<inf>food+dairy beverages</inf>) and non-core snacks (β: 0.11; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.20, p = 0.016 for DED<inf>food</inf>; β: 0.09; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.15, p = 0.010 for DED<inf>food+dairy beverages</inf>) were significantly associated with two of the three DED measures. Providing fruit at home early in a child’s life may encourage the establishment of healthful eating behaviors that could promote a diet that is lower in energy density later in life. Home availability of non-core snacks is likely to increase the energy density of preschool children’s diets, supporting the proposition that non-core snack availability at home should be limited.