Parental education and frequency of food consumption in European children: The IDEFICS study

Juan Miguel Fernández-Alvira, Theodora Mouratidou, Karin Bammann, Antje Hebestreit, Gianvincenzo Barba, Sabina Sieri, Lucia Reisch, Gabriele Eiben, Charalampos Hadjigeorgiou, Eva Kovacs, Inge Huybrechts, Luis A. Moreno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To assess the relationship between parental education level and the consumption frequency of obesity-related foods in European children. Design The analysis was based on data from the cross-sectional baseline survey of a prospective cohort study. The effects of parental education on food consumption were explored using analysis of covariance and logistic regression. Setting Primary schools and pre-schools of selected regions in Italy, Estonia, Cyprus, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Germany and Spain. Subjects Participants (n 14 426) of the IDEFICS baseline cohort study aged 2 to 9 years. Results Parental education level affected the intake of obesity-related foods in children. Children in the low and medium parental education level groups had lower odds of more frequently eating low-sugar and low-fat foods (vegetables, fruits, pasta/noodles/rice and wholemeal bread) and higher odds of more frequently eating high-sugar and high-fat foods (fried potatoes, fruits with sugar and nuts, snacks/desserts and sugared beverages; P <0·001). The largest odds ratio differences were found in the low category (reference category: high) for vegetables (OR = 0·56; 95 % CI 0·47, 0·65), fruits (OR = 0·56; 95 % CI 0·48, 0·65), fruits with sugar and nuts (OR = 2·23; 95 % CI 1·92, 2·59) and sugared beverages (OR = 2·01; 95 % CI 1·77, 2·37). Conclusions Low parental education level was associated with intakes of sugar-rich and fatty foods among children, while high parental education level was associated with intakes of low-sugar and low-fat foods. These findings should be taken into account in public health interventions, with more targeted policies aiming at an improvement of children's diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-498
Number of pages12
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Children
  • Food consumption
  • IDEFICS study
  • Parental education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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