Association of key foods and beverages with obesity in Australian schoolchildren

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Abstract

Objective

To examine the pattern of intake of key foods and beverages of children aged 4–12 years and the association with weight status.

Design and setting

A computer-assisted telephone interview was used to determine the intake of fruit, vegetables, packaged snacks, fast foods and sweetened drinks ‘yesterday’ and ‘usually’ as reported by parents/guardians of a representative sample of 2184 children from the Barwon South-Western region of Victoria, Australia.

Results

Children who consumed >2–3, >3–4 and >4 servings of fruit juice/drinks ‘yesterday’ were, respectively, 1.7 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2–2.2), 1.7 (95% CI 1.2–2.5) and 2.1 (95% CI 1.5–2.9) times more likely to be overweight/obese compared with those who had no servings of fruit juice/drink ‘yesterday’, adjusted for age, gender and socio-economic status (SES). Further, children who had ≥ 3 servings of soft drink ‘yesterday’ were 2.2 (95% CI 1.3–3.9) times more likely to be overweight/obese compared with those who had no servings of soft drink ‘yesterday’, adjusted for age, gender and SES. In addition, children who ‘usually’ drank fruit juice/drinks twice or more per day were 1.7 (95% CI 1.2–2.4) times more likely to be overweight/obese compared with those who drank these beverages once or less per week, adjusted for age, gender and SES. Although fast foods and packaged snacks were regularly eaten, there were no associations between weight status and consumption of these foods.

Conclusions

Intake of sweetened beverages was associated with overweight and obesity in this population of Australian schoolchildren and should be a target for intervention programmes aimed at preventing unhealthy weight gain in children.

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