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Fernández-Alvira, Claudia; Bammann, Karin; Gwozdz, Wencke; Krogh, Vittorio; Hebestreit, Antje; Barba, Gianvincenzo; Reisch, Lucia; Eiben, Gabriele; Iglesia, Iris; Veidebaum, Tomas; Kourides, Yannis A.; Kovacs, Eva; Huybrechts, Inge; Pigeot, Iris; Moreno, Luis A. (2015): Prospective associations between socio-economic status and dietary patterns in European children: The Identification and Prevention of Dietary- and Lifestyle-induced Health Effects in Children and Infants (IDEFICS) Study. In: British journal of nutrition, Vol. 113, No. 3: pp. 517-525
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Abstract

Exploring changes in children's diet over time and the relationship between these changes and socio-economic status (SES) may help to understand the impact of social inequalities on dietary patterns. The aim of the present study was to describe dietary patterns by applying a cluster analysis to 9301 children participating in the baseline (2-9 years old) and follow-up (4-11 years old) surveys of the Identification and Prevention of Dietary- and Lifestyle-induced Health Effects in Children and Infants Study, and to describe the cluster memberships of these children over time and their association with SES. We applied the K-means clustering algorithm based on the similarities between the relative frequencies of consumption of forty-two food items. The following three consistent clusters were obtained at baseline and follow-up: processed (higher frequency of consumption of snacks and fast food); sweet (higher frequency of consumption of sweet foods and sweetened drinks); healthy (higher frequency of consumption of fruits, vegetables and wholemeal products). Children with higher-educated mothers and fathers and the highest household income were more likely to be allocated to the healthy cluster at baseline and follow-up and less likely to be allocated to the sweet cluster. Migrants were more likely to be allocated to the processed cluster at baseline and follow-up. Applying the cluster analysis to derive dietary patterns at the two time points allowed us to identify groups of children from a lower socio-economic background presenting persistently unhealthier dietary profiles. This finding reflects the need for healthy eating interventions specifically targeting children from lower socio-economic backgrounds.