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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;68(7):811-21. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.78. Epub 2014 May 14.

Country-specific dietary patterns and associations with socioeconomic status in European children: the IDEFICS study.

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GENUD (Growth, Exercise, NUtrition and Development) research group, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain.
1] Institute for Public Health and Nursing Sciences (ipp), University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany [2] Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology BIPS GmbH, Bremen, Germany.
Department of Preventive and Predictive Medicine, Nutritional Epidemiology Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy.
Unit of Epidemiology and Population Genetics, Institute of Food Sciences, National Reseach Council, Avellino, Italy.
Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Public Health Epidemiology Unit, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology BIPS GmbH, Bremen, Germany.
Department of Chronic Diseases, National Institute for Health Development, Tallinn, Estonia.
Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Research and Education Institute of Child Health, Strovolos, Cyprus.
Department of Paediatrics, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary.
1] Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium [2] International Agency for research on Cancer, Dietary Exposure assessment group, Lyon, France.



Children from lower socioeconomic status (SES) may be at higher risk of unhealthy eating. We described country-specific dietary patterns among children aged 2-9 years from eight European countries participating in the IDEFICS study and assessed the association of dietary patterns with an additive SES indicator.


Children aged 2-9 years from eight European countries were recruited in 2007-2008. Principal component analysis was applied to identify dietary country-specific patterns. Linear regression analyses were applied to assess their association with SES.


Two to four dietary patterns were identified in the participating regions. The existence of a 'processed' pattern was found in the eight regions. Also, a 'healthy' pattern was identified in seven of the eight regions. In addition, region-specific patterns were identified, reflecting the existing gastronomic and cultural differences in Europe. The 'processed' pattern was significantly inversely associated with the SES additive indicator in all countries except Sweden, whereas the 'healthy' pattern was positively associated with SES in the Belgian, Estonian, German and Hungarian regions, but was not significant in the Italian, Spanish and Swedish regions.


A 'processed' pattern and a 'healthy' pattern were found in most of the participating countries in the IDEFICS study, with comparable food item profiles. The results showed a strong inverse association of SES with the 'processed' pattern, suggesting that children of parents with lower SES may be at higher risk of unhealthy eating. Therefore, special focus should be given to parents and their children from lower SES levels when developing healthy eating promotion strategies.

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