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The present study investigated the association between sugar and fat intake in childhood in relation to alcohol use in adolescence. We hypothesized that early exposure to diets high in fat and sugar may affect ingestive behaviours later in life, including alcohol use.
Children from the European IDEFICS/I.Family cohort study were examined at ages 5–9 years and followed up at ages 11–16 years. FFQ were completed by parents on behalf of children, and later by adolescents themselves. Complete data were available in 2263 participants. Children’s propensities to consume foods high in fat and sugar were calculated and dichotomized at median values. Adolescents’ use of alcohol was classified as at least weekly v. less frequent use. Log-binomial regression linked sugar and fat consumption in childhood to risk of alcohol use in adolescence, adjusted for relevant covariates.
Five per cent of adolescents reported weekly alcohol consumption. Children with high propensity to consume sugar and fat were at greater risk of later alcohol use, compared with children with low fat and low sugar propensity (relative risk=2·46; 95 % CI 1·47, 4·12), independent of age, sex and survey country. The association was not explained by parental income and education, strict parenting style or child's health-related quality of life and was only partly mediated by sustained consumption of sugar and fat into adolescence.
Frequent consumption of foods high in fat and sugar in childhood predicted regular use of alcohol in adolescence.
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.