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J Nutr. 2002 Mar;132(3):430-8.

Tracking of dietary intake patterns of Chinese from childhood to adolescence over a six-year follow-up period.

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  • 1Department of Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


Limited literature has explored whether dietary intake patterns are maintained or changed between childhood and adolescence. More research is required to understand the predictors of these patterns. Using longitudinal data collected in China for 984 children initially aged 6--13 y, we examined children's dietary intake patterns over a 6-y period and the predictors. Detailed data on children's diets (three 24-h recalls in each survey), anthropometry, sociodemographic characteristics and parental education and occupation were collected. To study the predictors of tracking and changes, we conducted ordinary and multinomial logistic regression analyses. Significant correlations (r = 0.28-0.51, P < 0.05) between individuals' 1991 and 1997 dietary intakes were observed for macronutrients and major food groups (vegetable and fruit, meat and edible oil), which were also supported by kappa (a statistic measuring agreement beyond chance). About half of those who initially consumed high fat, high carbohydrate, high vegetable and fruit, and high meat diets continued such diets 6 y later. Family income, urban-rural residence, mother's education and baseline dietary intakes were important predictors of children's dietary intake patterns. In conclusion, even under conditions of rapid socioeconomic change, children are likely to maintain their dietary intake patterns from childhood into adolescence. Efforts to promote healthy eating behaviors may be more effective if focused on younger children, and parents should be involved in these efforts.

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