Public Health Nutrition

Monitoring and surveillance

Dietary patterns and breast-feeding in Australian children

Jessica A Griegera1 c1, Jane Scotta1 and Lynne Cobiaca1

a1 Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Flinders Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Level 7E, Flinders Medical Centre, Flinders Drive, Bedford Park, SA 5042, Australia

Abstract

Objective To determine the dietary patterns of a national sample of 2–8-year-old Australian children and to establish whether breast-feeding is associated with dietary patterns in this age group.

Design Cross-sectional study using 24 h recall data from the 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.

Setting Australia.

Subjects A total of 2287 children aged 2–8 years.

Results Principal component factor analysis identified three distinct patterns. The ‘Non-core food groups’ pattern included food groups such as whole-fat dairy products, cheese, medium–high sugar-sweetened breakfast cereals and sweet biscuits, no fruit, reduced/low-fat dairy products and wholegrain bread/rolls. The ‘Healthy, meat and vegetable’ pattern included vegetables, red meat, fruit and wholegrain bread/rolls and was inversely associated with take-away foods and carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages. The ‘Combination’ pattern contained many food groups including candy (not chocolate based), pasta/rice products, nuts/seeds, cakes and chocolate, but no fruit or vegetables. Of the 2287 children, 2064 (89·3 %) had been breast-fed. A positive association was found between breast-feeding and the healthy, meat and vegetable pattern (r = 0·267) but not with the other two patterns. Higher scores on this pattern were also associated with younger age, lower BMI, higher birth weight, high likelihood of being in the less-disadvantaged Socio-economic Indexes for Areas category and less likelihood of the child's parents having a lower educational level.

Conclusions These results provide suggestive evidence that breast-feeding during infancy is associated with a healthy dietary pattern in childhood and offers a likely pathway to explain the previously reported association between breast-feeding and chronic disease.

(Received May 18 2010)

(Accepted April 04 2011)

(Online publication June 23 2011)

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Email jessica.grieger@flinders.edu.au

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