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To identify the dietary patterns of children aged 4–7 years and verify their association with sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle habits and exclusive breast-feeding (EBF).
A cross-sectional study nested within a cohort, performed with Brazilian children aged 4–7 years. The children were re-evaluated at age 4 to 7 years and food patterns were identified a posteriori through principal component analysis. The predictive variables were related to socio-economic characteristics, lifestyle habits and duration of EBF.
Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Representative sample of 403 children followed up by the Lactation Support Program from the Extension Program of the Universidade Federal de Viçosa during the first 6 months of life.
Five dietary patterns were identified: ‘Traditional’, ‘Unhealthy’, ‘Milk and chocolate’, ‘Snack’ and ‘Healthy’. Children who did not receive EBF until they were at least 4 months old had a higher adherence to the ‘Unhealthy’ and ‘Snack’ patterns, and older children also consumed more ‘Unhealthy’ foods. The highest income was associated with the highest consumption of foods of the patterns ‘Unhealthy’, ‘Milk and chocolate’ and ‘Healthy’.
In view of the results, we emphasize the importance of providing support and encouragement towards EBF in the first months of life, as it can positively influence lifelong eating habits.
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