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Prospective associations between socio-economic status and dietary patterns in European children: the Identification and Prevention of Dietary- and Lifestyle-induced Health Effects in Children and Infants (IDEFICS) Study

  • Juan Miguel Fernández-Alvira (a1) (a2), Claudia Börnhorst (a2), Karin Bammann (a3), Wencke Gwozdz (a4), Vittorio Krogh (a5), Antje Hebestreit (a2), Gianvincenzo Barba (a6), Lucia Reisch (a4), Gabriele Eiben (a7), Iris Iglesia (a1), Tomas Veidebaum (a8), Yannis A. Kourides (a9), Eva Kovacs (a10), Inge Huybrechts (a11) (a12), Iris Pigeot (a2) (a13) and Luis A. Moreno (a1)...


Exploring changes in children's diet over time and the relationship between these changes and socio-economic status (SES) may help to understand the impact of social inequalities on dietary patterns. The aim of the present study was to describe dietary patterns by applying a cluster analysis to 9301 children participating in the baseline (2–9 years old) and follow-up (4–11 years old) surveys of the Identification and Prevention of Dietary- and Lifestyle-induced Health Effects in Children and Infants Study, and to describe the cluster memberships of these children over time and their association with SES. We applied the K-means clustering algorithm based on the similarities between the relative frequencies of consumption of forty-two food items. The following three consistent clusters were obtained at baseline and follow-up: processed (higher frequency of consumption of snacks and fast food); sweet (higher frequency of consumption of sweet foods and sweetened drinks); healthy (higher frequency of consumption of fruits, vegetables and wholemeal products). Children with higher-educated mothers and fathers and the highest household income were more likely to be allocated to the healthy cluster at baseline and follow-up and less likely to be allocated to the sweet cluster. Migrants were more likely to be allocated to the processed cluster at baseline and follow-up. Applying the cluster analysis to derive dietary patterns at the two time points allowed us to identify groups of children from a lower socio-economic background presenting persistently unhealthier dietary profiles. This finding reflects the need for healthy eating interventions specifically targeting children from lower socio-economic backgrounds.


Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: J. M. Fernández-Alvira, fax +34 876 55 40 9, email


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