Environmental and individual determinants of core and non-core food and drink intake in preschool-aged children in the United Kingdom


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Abstract

Background/Objectives:Strategies to achieve healthier diets for children are likely to benefit from an understanding of the determinants. We examined environmental and individual predictors of children's intake of ‘core’ foods (fruit and vegetables) and ‘non-core’ foods (snacks and sweetened beverages). Predictors included parental intake, home availability, parental feeding styles (Encouragement and Monitoring) and children's food preferences. Based on research with older children, we expected intake of both food types to be associated with maternal intake, core foods to be more associated with children's preferences and non-core food intake more with the home environment.Subjects/Methods:Primary caregivers (n = 434) of children (2-5 years) from preschools and Children's Centres in London, UK, completed a self-report survey in 2008.Results:Multiple regression analyses indicated children's fruit intake was associated with maternal fruit intake (B = 0.29; P=0.000), children's liking for fruit (B = 0.81; P=0.000) and a Monitoring style of parental feeding (B = 0.13; P=0.021). Children's vegetable intake was similarly associated with maternal intake (B = 0.39; P = 0.000), children's liking for vegetables (B=0.77; P=0.000), Encouragement (B = 0.19; P=0.021) and Monitoring (B=0.11; P=0.029). Non-core snack intake was associated with maternal intake (B=0.25; P= 0.029), Monitoring (B = -0.16; P=0.010), home availability (B = 0.10; P= 0.022) and television viewing (TV) (B = 0.28; P=0.012). Non-core drink intake was associated with maternal intake (B = 0.32; P=0.000) and TV (B = 0.20; P=0.019).Conclusions:Results indicate commonalities and differences in the predictors of core and non-core food intake, with only maternal intake being important across all types. Effective interventions to improve young children's diets may need to call on different strategies for different foods.

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