Early life and socio-economic determinants of dietary trajectories in infancy and early childhood – Results from the HSHK birth cohort study
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© The Author(s). 2021 Published in Nutrition Journal. This article is published under the Open Access publishing model and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. Please refer to the licence to obtain terms for any further reuse or distribution of this work.
Background: Early childhood is a period when dietary behaviours are established. This study aimed to examine the longitudinal intake of core and discretionary foods and identify early life and socio-economic factors influencing those intakes.
Methods: Mother-infant dyads (n = 934) from the Healthy Smiles Healthy Kids study, an ongoing birth cohort study, were interviewed. The information on ‘weekly frequency of core and discretionary foods intake’ using a food frequency questionnaire was collected at 4 months, 8 months, 1 year, 2 years and 3 years age points. Group-based trajectory modelling analyses were performed to identify diet trajectories for ‘core’ and ‘discretionary’ foods respectively. A multinomial logistic regression was performed to identify the maternal and child-related predictors of resulting trajectories.
Results: The intake of core and discretionary foods each showed distinct quadratic (n = 3) trajectories with age. Overall, core foods intake increased rapidly in the first year of life, followed by a decline after age two, whereas discretionary foods intake increased steadily across the five age points. Multiparity (Relative Risk (RR): 0.46, 95%CI: 0.27–0.77), non-English speaking ethnicity of mother (RR: 0.66, 95%CI: 0.47–0.91) and having a single mother (RR: 0.40, 95%CI: 0.18–0.85) were associated with low trajectories of core foods intake whereas older maternal age (RR: 1.05, 95%CI: 1.01–1.08) and longer breastfeeding duration (RR: 1.02, 95%CI: 1.00–1.03) were associated with higher trajectories of core foods intake. Also, multiparity (RR 2.63, 95%CI: 1.47–4.70), low maternal education (RR 3.01, 95%CI: 1.61–5.65), and socio-economic disadvantage (RR 2.69, 95%CI: 1.31–5.55) were associated with high trajectories of discretionary foods intake. Conversely, longer duration of breastfeeding (RR 0.99, 95%CI: 0.97–0.99), and timely introduction of complementary foods (RR 0.30, 95%CI: 0.15–0.61) had a protective effect against high discretionary foods consumption in infancy and early childhood.
Conclusion: Children’s frequency of discretionary foods intake increases markedly as they transition from infancy to preschool age, and the trajectories of intake established during early childhood are strongly influenced by socio-demographic factors and infant feeding choices. Hence, there is a need for targeted strategies to improve nutrition in early childhood and ultimately prevent the incidence of chronic diseases in children.
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