Background: Dietary patterns have been shown to be associated with nutrient intakes and lifestyle disease including diabetes and obesity in adults. However, little is known about the association in young children.
Aim: To determine the association between dietary patterns, intakes of macronutrients and key micronutrients and micronutrient status as well as risk of overweight and obesity in a representative population of preschool children in Adelaide.
Methods: Dietary intake of 288 preschool children who participated in a cross sectional survey of Food Intake and Nutritional Status – the FINS study were assessed using a 3-d weighed food diary. Dietary patterns were identified by factor analysis. Iron and zinc status were assessed by accredited laboratories. Weight, length/height were measured using standard methods and z-scores were calculated using WHO growth reference. Children were classified as Overweight was defined as BMI z-score between 85th – 95th percentiles and obese was defined as BMI z-score above the 95th percentile.
Results: Three dietary patterns were identified. The Home-made dietary pattern was characterised by grains, fruit, vegetable, and red meat. The Processed dietary pattern was characterised by snack foods, preserves, beverages, biscuits and cakes. The Alternative dietary pattern was characterised by eggs, fish, composite foods where vegetable is a key ingredient, polyunsaturated margarines and low fat dairy products. The tertile Home-made dietary pattern score was associated with increase intakes of iron and zinc while the Processed dietary pattern score was associated with decrease intakes of iron and zinc, but dietary patterns scores were not associated with biomarkers of iron or zinc status. Age and energy intake were positively associated with tertiles of all three dietary patterns scores. The Home-made dietary pattern was positively associated with risk of overweight and obesity. No significant association was observed between the other two dietary patterns and weight status.
Conclusion: Interpretation of the association between dietary patterns and risk of overweight and obesity is limited due to the cross sectional nature of the study. Longitudinal follow up will help to elucidate the relationship between dietary patterns in childhood and risk of overweight and obesity.