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Racial/ethnic and immigrant differences in early childhood diet quality

  • Marieke LA de Hoog (a1) (a2), Ken P Kleinman (a3), Matthew W Gillman (a3) (a4), Tanja GM Vrijkotte (a1), Manon van Eijsden (a2) (a5) and Elsie M Taveras (a3) (a6)...

To assess racial/ethnic differences in the diet in young children and the explanatory role of maternal BMI, immigrant status and perception of child's weight.


Among white, black and Hispanic 3-year-olds, we used negative binomial and linear regression to examine associations of race/ethnicity with foods and nutrients assessed by a validated FFQ.


Project Viva, Boston (MA), USA.


Children aged 3 years (n 898).


Mean age was 38·3 (sd 2·8) months; 464 (52 %) were boys and 127 mothers (14 %) were immigrants. After adjustment for sociodemographic factors, black and Hispanic children (v. white) had a higher intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (rate ratio (RR) = 2·59 (95 % CI 1·95, 3·48) and RR = 1·59 (95 % CI 1·07, 2·47), respectively) and lower intakes of skimmed/1 % milk (RR = 0·42 (95 % CI 0·33, 0·53) and RR = 0·43 (95 % CI 0·31, 0·61), respectively) and trans-fat (−0·10 (95 % CI −0·18, −0·03) % of energy and −0·15 (95 % CI −0·26, −0·04) % of energy, respectively). Among Hispanics only, a lower intake of snack food (RR = 0·83 (95 % CI 0·72, 0·98)) was found and among blacks only, a higher intake of fast food (RR = 1·28 (95 % CI 1·05, 1·55)) and lower intakes of saturated fat (−0·86 (95 % CI −1·48, −0·23) % of energy), dietary fibre (0·85 (95 % CI 0·08, 1·62) g/d) and Ca (−120 (95 % CI −175, −65) mg/d) were found. Being born outside the USA was associated with more healthful nutrient intakes and less fast food.


Three-year-old black and Hispanic (v. white) children ate more sugar-sweetened beverages and less low-fat dairy. Total energy intake was substantially higher in Hispanic children. Snack food (Hispanic children) and fat intakes (black children) tended to be lower. Children of immigrants ate less fast food and bad fats and more fibre.

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