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Diet quality across early childhood and adiposity at 6 years: the Southampton Women's Survey

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Sian RobinsonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background:Poor diet quality in early childhood is inconsistently linked to obesity risk. Understanding may be limited by the use of cross-sectional data and the use of body mass index (BMI) to define adiposity in childhood.Objective:The objective of this study is to examine the effects of continued exposure to diets of varying quality across early childhood in relation to adiposity at 6 years.Methods:One thousand and eighteen children from a prospective UK birth cohort were studied. Diet was assessed using food frequency questionnaires when the children were aged 6 and 12 months, and 3 and 6 years; diet quality was determined according to scores for a principal component analysis-defined dietary pattern at each age (characterized by frequent consumption of fruits, vegetables and fish). At each age, children were allocated a value of 0/1/2 according to third of the distribution (bottom/middle/top) their diet quality score was in; values were summed to calculate an overall diet quality index (DQI) for early childhood (range 0–8). Obesity outcomes considered at 6 years were dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry-assessed fat mass and BMI.Results:One hundred and seven (11%) children had a DQI=0, indicating a consistently low diet quality, 339 (33%) had a DQI=1–3, 378 (37%) had a DQI=4–6 and 194 (19%) had a DQI=7–8. There was a strong association between lower DQI and higher fat mass z-score at 6 years that was robust to adjustment for confounders (fat mass s.d. per 1-unit DQI increase: β=−0.05 (95% confidence interval (CI): −0.09, −0.01), P=0.01). In comparison with children who had the highest diet quality (DQI=7–8), this amounted to a difference in fat mass of 14% (95% CI: 2%, 28%) at 6 years for children with the poorest diets (DQI=0). In contrast, no independent associations were observed between DQI and BMI

Publication metadata

Author(s): Okubo H, Crozier SR, Harvey NC, Godfrey KM, Inskip HM, Cooper C, Robinson SM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Obesity

Year: 2015

Volume: 39

Issue: 10

Pages: 1456-1462

Print publication date: 01/10/2015

Online publication date: 26/05/2015

Acceptance date: 17/05/2015

Date deposited: 16/05/2019

ISSN (print): 0307-0565

ISSN (electronic): 1476-5497

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2015.97

PubMed id: 26121960


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