Diet quality across early childhood and adiposity at 6 years: the Southampton Women's Survey.
Okubo H., Crozier SR., Harvey NC., Godfrey KM., Inskip HM., Cooper C., Robinson SM.
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.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.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.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.Continued exposure to diets of low quality across early childhood is linked to adiposity at the age of 6 years.