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Fernández-Alvira, Juan Miguel; Mouratidou, Theodora; Bammann, Karin; Hebestreit, Antje; Barba, Gianvincenzo; Sieri, Sabina; Reisch, Lucia; Eiben, Gabriele; Hadjigeorgiou, Charalampos; Kovacs, Eva; Huybrechts, Inge and Moreno, Luis A. (2013): Parental education and frequency of food consumption in European children: The IDEFICS study. In: Public health nutrition, Vol. 16, No. 3: pp. 487-498

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OBJECTIVE To assess the relationship between parental education level and the consumption frequency of obesity-related foods in European children. DESIGN The analysis was based on data from the cross-sectional baseline survey of a prospective cohort study. The effects of parental education on food consumption were explored using analysis of covariance and logistic regression. SETTING Primary schools and pre-schools of selected regions in Italy, Estonia, Cyprus, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Germany and Spain. SUBJECTS Participants (n 14,426) of the IDEFICS baseline cohort study aged 2 to 9 years. RESULTS Parental education level affected the intake of obesity-related foods in children. Children in the low and medium parental education level groups had lower odds of more frequently eating low-sugar and low-fat foods (vegetables, fruits, pasta/noodles/rice and wholemeal bread) and higher odds of more frequently eating high-sugar and high-fat foods (fried potatoes, fruits with sugar and nuts, snacks/desserts and sugared beverages; P < 0.001). The largest odds ratio differences were found in the low category (reference category: high) for vegetables (OR = 0.56; 95 % CI 0.47, 0.65), fruits (OR = 0.56; 95% CI 0.48, 0.65), fruits with sugar and nuts (OR = 2.23; 95% CI 1.92, 2.59) and sugared beverages (OR = 2.01; 95% CI 1.77, 2.37). CONCLUSIONS Low parental education level was associated with intakes of sugar-rich and fatty foods among children, while high parental education level was associated with intakes of low-sugar and low-fat foods. These findings should be taken into account in public health interventions, with more targeted policies aiming at an improvement of children's diet.

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