Dietary Patterns of Pre-Schoolers and Their Relationship with Food Insecurity
Introduction: Dietary patterns (DPs) represent the consumption of food and nutrients of a population. Research in this area is very important to evaluate eating habits, especially during the critical period of growth and development in childhood. Objective: The study aims to identify DPs and their relationships with food insecurity and the nutritional status of preschool children. Methods: A cross-sectional study was undertaken of 308 children between 24 and 48 months of age enrolled at municipal day care centres in a city with a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.800. Dietary intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire and interpreted through principal components analysis (PCA). Nutritional condition was assessed by the indicator BMI/age and food insecurity (FI) was classified by the score on the Brazilian Food Insecurity Scale. Results: Five DPs were identified: "Western", "Fruits and vegetables", “Prudent”, "Dairy" and "Traditional". Pre-schoolers with "Western" food standards are less likely (OR: 0.51; 95% CI: 0.27–0.98) to be in moderate or severe FI; however, food quality is compromised, featuring light FI. Children in the "Traditional" category are strongly linked to families receiving social benefits and childhood overweight (p < 0.05). Conclusions: "Western" and "Traditional" DPs are qualitatively and quantitatively inadequate, regardless of family income condition and maternal education. Thus, public actions to combat unfavourable DPs and deleterious effects on health are important and indispensable to prevent chronic diseases.
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