An international comparison of dietary patterns in 9–11-year-old children
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OBJECTIVES: Dietary pattern is defined as a combination of foods and drinks and the frequency of consumption within a population. Dietary patterns are changing on a global level, which may be linked to an increased incidence of chronic diseases. The aim of this study was to identify and compare the dietary patterns among 9–11-year-old children living in urban regions in different parts of the world. METHODS: Participants were 7199 children (54% girls), aged 9–11 years, from 12 countries situated in all major world regions. Food consumption was assessed using a 23-item Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ). To identify dietary patterns, principal components analyses (PCA) were carried out using weekly portions as input variables. RESULTS: Both site-specific and pooled PCA resulted in two strong components. Component 1 (‘unhealthy diet pattern’) included fast foods, ice cream, fried food, French fries, potato chips, cakes and sugar-sweetened sodas with >0.6 loadings. The loadings for component 2 (‘healthy diet pattern’) were slightly weaker with only dark-green vegetables, orange vegetables, vegetables in general, and fruits and berries reaching a >0.6 loading. The site-specific diet pattern scores had very strong correlations with the pattern scores from the pooled data: r=0.82 and 0.94 for components 1 and 2, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that the same ‘healthier’ and ‘unhealthier’ foods tend to be consumed in similar combinations among 9–11-year-old children in different countries, despite variation in food culture, geographical location, ethnic background and economic development.