The influence of socioeconomic factors and family context on energy-dense food consumption among 2-year-old children

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Adverse effect on health has been described for a high consumption of energy-dense food, among children and adults. Limited research has been performed among pre-school children. The objective of this study is to evaluate the association between socioeconomic characteristics and family structure, and the consumption of energy-dense food among 2-year-old children.


The study sample includes 808 2-year-old children from the Portuguese birth cohort Generation XXI with information on food consumption. Data were obtained from questionnaires administered by interviewers to parents. Based on a food frequency questionnaire, four groups of energy-dense food were defined: soft drinks (sweetened drinks), sweets (chocolate and candies), cakes (creamy and not creamy cakes and sweet pastry) and salty snacks (crisps, pizza and burger). Multinomial logistic regression models (odds ratio and 95% confidence intervals) were fitted to estimate the associations.


Intakes of energy-dense food were much lower than in similar aged children in other Westernized countries. Maternal age and education, grandparents' education, household income and maternal occupation were inversely associated with the consumption of energy-dense food, particularly soft drinks and sweets. Children with older siblings were more likely to have a daily consumption of any energy-dense food. Few significant associations were found between socioeconomic characteristics and family structure and consumption of cakes and sweets less than once a week.


High socioeconomic characteristics were associated with lower consumption of energy-dense food by 2-year-old children, mainly soft drinks and sweets. This influence is not only from parents' background but also from the preceding generations.

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