Associations Between Swedish Mothers' and 3- and 5-Year-Old Children's Food Intake

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To investigate associations between mothers' and children's food intake.


Cross-sectional study. Background variables collected through self-reports and from the register of the total population. Mothers recorded their own and their children's food intake in a diary during 2 4-day periods.


Eight counties in mid Sweden.


Three- and 5-year-old children and their mothers were randomly selected from the register of the total population. A total of 2,045 families were invited, 355 of whom accepted. Mothers who accepted were older and to a larger extent born in Sweden. The final sample of mother–child pairs with complete food records was 189.

Main Outcome Measures:

Mothers' and children's food intake (16 food items).


Spearman rank-order correlation with 95% confidence intervals (2-sided). Moderation was investigated using generalized estimation equations with robust variance.


The strongest correlations between mothers' and children's food intake were found for pizza and oily fish (r = .70–.80). The weakest correlations were found for sugared drinks and fruit and berries (r = .24–.26). Children's age moderated the relationship between mothers' and children's intake of savoury snacks, as did place of residence for pizza intake.

Conclusions and Implications:

There were substantial correlations between children's and mothers' intake of various foods. Modeling of mothers' intake might be more effective in influencing young children's intake of certain foods, whereas other strategies, such as encouraging parents to influence food availability (eg, gatekeeping), might be more useful for some foods.

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