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To examine the associations between maternal education level and diet in 10-year-old children.
Three-day diet diaries (child completed with parental help) were collected. Height and weight were measured in research clinics. Maternal education level was derived from a questionnaire completed during pregnancy and classified into low, medium or high. One-way ANOVA was undertaken to compare maternal education groups for nutrient intakes and the Kruskal–Wallis test used for food consumption.
Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), Bristol, UK.
Children (n 7474) who provided dietary data at age 10 years.
A large proportion (60 %) of the sample was classified as plausible reporters, with under-reporting accounting for 36 %. No clear differences were found for intakes of energy or macronutrients between maternal education groups for plausible reporters. However, there were marked differences in micronutrient intakes especially for vitamin C, retinol equivalents and folate, highlighting lower diet quality with lower maternal education level. Intakes of fruit and vegetables showed a positive gradient with increasing maternal education (57 % v. 79 % consumed fresh fruit in low and high educational groups, respectively). A trend towards higher intake in the lower educated group was shown for less healthy foods (meat pies P < 0·001; sausages, burgers and kebabs P < 0·001).
The quality of children's diet at 10 years was related to maternal education level. Lower maternal education was associated with less healthy food choices that could be detrimental to health. Further research is needed to establish if these associations can be explained by other socio-economic factors.