Dietary patterns of children at 3.5 and 7 years of age: a New Zealand birth cohort study



Dr Clare Wall, Discipline of Nutrition, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.

Tel: + 64 9 373 7599 ext 89875 |

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To describe the dietary patterns of children at 3.5 and 7 years born small for gestational age (SGA) and appropriate for gestational age (AGA) and the association of dietary patterns with socio-demographic and obstetric factors.


Children from a New Zealand birth cohort study were followed up at 3.5 (n = 550) and 7 (n = 591) years. Dietary information was collected using a Food Frequency Questionnaire.


Three dietary patterns were defined in these children (‘traditional’, ‘junk’ and ‘healthy’). Factors associated with dietary patterns were examined in multivariable analyses. At 3.5 years, ‘junk’ was associated with maternal smoking in pregnancy, no attendance at antenatal classes, maternal BMI and a younger maternal age. At 3.5 years, ‘healthy’ was associated with being married when pregnant. At 7 years, ‘traditional’ was associated with being born SGA, smoking in pregnancy, a younger maternal age and being male.


Maternal socio-demographic, obstetric factors and birth size were associated with dietary patterns. The associations were not consistent with each dietary pattern across age groups. To examine the impact of diet in childhood on growth and health outcomes, factors influencing dietary patterns should be assessed at regular intervals throughout childhood.