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Physical activity (PA) levels and dietary habits are considered some of the most important factors associated with obesity. The present study aimed to examine the association between PA level and food and beverage consumption in European children (2–10 years old).
A sample of 7229 children (49·0 % girls) from eight European countries participating in the IDEFICS (Identification and prevention of Dietary and lifestyle induced health EFfects In Children and infantS) study was included. Moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) was assessed objectively with accelerometers. FFQ was used to register dietary habits. ANCOVA and binary logistic regression were applied.
Boys who spent less time in MVPA reported lower consumption of vegetables, fruits, cereals, yoghurt, milk, bread, pasta, candies and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) than boys who spent more time in MVPA (P<0·05). Moreover, boys who spent less time in MVPA were more likely to consume fast foods and water than those in the highest MVPA tertile (P<0·05). Girls who spent less time in MVPA reported lower consumption frequencies of vegetables, pasta, bread, yoghurt, candies, jam/honey and SSB than girls in the highest MVPA tertile (P<0·05). Also, girls in the lowest MVPA tertile were more likely to consume fast foods and water than those with high levels of MVPA (P<0·05).
Food intake among European children varied with different levels of daily MVPA. Low time spent in MVPA was associated with lowest consumption of both high- and low-energy-dense foods and high fast-food consumption.
Children may influence household spending through ‘pester power’. The present study examined pestering through parent–child food shopping behaviours in relation to children’s diet and weight status.
Cross-sectional and prospective analyses drawn from the IDEFICS study, a cohort study of parents and their children. Children’s height and weight were measured and their recent diets were reported by parental proxy based on the Children’s Eating Habits Questionnaire-FFQ at baseline and 2-year follow-up. Parents also completed questionnaires at both time points about pestering, including whether the child goes grocery shopping with them, asks for items seen on television and is bought requested food items.
Participants were recruited from eight European countries for the IDEFICS study (non-nationally representative sample).
Study participants were children aged 2–9 years at enrolment and their parents. A total of 13 217 parent–child dyads were included at baseline. Two years later, 7820 of the children were re-examined.
Most parents (63 %) at baseline reported ‘sometimes’ acquiescing to their children’s requests to purchase specific foods. Pestering was modestly associated with weight and diet. At baseline, children whose parents ‘often’ complied consumed more high-sugar and high-fat foods. Children who ‘often’ asked for items seen on television were likely to become overweight after 2 years (OR=1·31), whereas ‘never’ asking protected against overweight (OR=0·72).
Pestering was modestly related to diet and weight in cross-sectional, but not longitudinal analyses. Asking for items seen on television had the most robust relationships across child outcomes and over time.