Dietary patterns and longitudinal change in body mass in European children: A follow-up study on the IDEFICS multicenter cohort

V. Pala, L. Lissner, A. Hebestreit, A. Lanfer, S. Sieri, A. Siani, I. Huybrechts, L. Kambek, D. Molnar, M. Tornaritis, L. Moreno, W. Ahrens, V. Krogh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/objectives:Longitudinal studies investigating dietary patterns (DPs) and their association with childhood overweight/obesity are lacking in Europe. We identified DPs and investigated their association with overweight/obesity and changes in body mass index (BMI) in a cohort of European children.Subjects/methods:Children aged 2-10 from eight European countries were recruited in 2007-2008. Food frequency questionnaires were collected from 14 989 children. BMI and BMI z-scores were derived from height and weight and were used to identify overweight/obese children. After 2 years (mean), anthropometric measurements were repeated in 9427 children. Principal component analysis was used to identify DPs. Simplified DPs (SDPs) were derived from DPs. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for overweight/obesity with increasing DP intake were estimated using multilevel logistic regression. Associations of BMI change with DP and SDP were assessed by multilevel mixed regression. Models were adjusted for baseline BMI, age, sex, physical activity and family income.Results:Four DPs were identified that explained 25% of food intake variance: snacking, sweet and fat, vegetables and wholemeal, and protein and water. After 2 years, 849(9%) children became overweight/obese. Children in the highest vegetables and wholemeal tertile had lower risk of becoming overweight/obese (OR: 0.69, 95% confidence intervals (CIs): 0.54-0.88). Children in the highest SDP tertile of vegetables and wholemeal had similarly lower risk of becoming overweight/obese (OR: 0.64, 95% CIs: 0.51-0.82), and their BMI increased by 0.7 kg/m2 over the study period-significantly less than the increase in the lowest tertile (0.84 kg/m2).Conclusions:Our findings suggest that promoting a diet rich in vegetables and wholemeal cereals may counteract overweight/obesity in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1042-1049
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • body mass index
  • children
  • cohort study
  • dietary patterns
  • overweight
  • simplified dietary patterns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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