OBJECTIVE: Childhood obesity is rising and dietary intake is a potentially modifiable factor that plays an important role in its development. We aim to investigate the association between dietary patterns, obtained through principal components analysis and gains in fat and lean mass in childhood.
DESIGN: Diet diaries at 10 years of age collected from children taking part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Body composition was assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at 9 and 11.
SETTING: Longitudinal birth cohort.
SUBJECTS: 3911 children with complete data.
RESULTS: There was an association between the Health Aware (positive loadings on high-fiber bread, and fruits and vegetables; negative loadings on chips, crisps, processed meat, and soft drinks) pattern score and decreased fat mass gain in girls. After adjusting for confounders, an increase of 1 standard deviation (sd) in this score led to an estimated 1.2% decrease in fat mass gain in valid-reporters and 2.1% in under-reporters. A similar decrease was found only in under-reporting boys. There was also an association between the Packed Lunch (high consumption of white bread, sandwich fillings, and snacks) pattern score and decreased fat mass gain (1.1% per sd) in valid-reporting but not under-reporting girls. The main association with lean mass gain was an increase with Packed Lunch pattern score in valid-reporting boys only.
CONCLUSIONS: There is a small association between dietary patterns and change in fat mass in mid-childhood. Differences between under- and valid-reporters emphasize the need to consider valid-reporters separately in such studies.