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Religious/spiritual beliefs and behaviours (RSBB) have been associated with health outcomes, with diet a potential mediator of this relationship. We therefore explored whether RSBBs were associated with differences in diet.
Dietary patterns and nutrient intakes were derived from food frequency questionnaires completed by pregnant women in 1991-1992 (mean age=28.3 years, range=15-46), and by the mothers and partners 4 years post-partum (mothers mean age=32.3, range=19-49; partners mean age=34.5, range=18-74). RSBB exposures measured in pregnancy included religious belief, affiliation and attendance. We first explored whether RSBBs were associated with dietary patterns in confounder-adjusted linear regression models. If associations were found, we examined whether RSBBs were associated with nutrient intake (linear regression) and following nutrient intake guidelines (logistic regression).
Prospective birth cohort study in Southwest England (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children; ALSPAC).
13,689 enrolled mothers and their associated partners.
In pregnant women, RSBBs were associated with higher “traditional” (i.e., ‘meat and two veg’) and lower “vegetarian” dietary pattern scores. Religious attendance and non-Christian religious affiliation were associated with higher “health-conscious” dietary pattern scores. Religious attendance was associated with increased micronutrient intake and following recommended micronutrient intake guidelines, with weaker effects for religious belief and affiliation. Comparable patterns were observed for mothers and partners 4 years post-partum, although associations between RSBBs and nutrient intakes were weaker for partners.
RSBBs are associated with broad dietary patterns and nutrient intake in this cohort. If these reflect causal relationships, diet may potentially mediate the pathway between RSBB and health.
Research into how alignment to UK dietary guidelines during childhood affects cardiometabolic health is limited. The association between adherence to UK dietary guidelines during childhood and overall cardiometabolic risk (CMR) in adolescence/early adulthood was explored using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). ALSPAC children with diet diaries completed at 7, 10 and 13 years of age, and data on CMR markers at 17 years (n 1940) and 24 years (n 1957) were included. A children’s Eatwell Guide (C-EWG) score was created by comparing dietary intakes at each age to UK dietary guidelines for nine foods/nutrients. Cardiometabolic health at 17 and 24 years was assessed using a composite CMR score. Multivariable linear regression models examined associations between C-EWG scores at 7, 10 and 13 years and the CMR score at 17 and 24 years, adjusting for confounders. C-EWG scores were generally low. However, a higher score (adherence to more dietary guidelines) at 7 years old was associated with a lower CMR score at 17 and 24 years: β −0·13 (95 % CI −0·25, –0·01) and β −0·25 (95 % CI −0·38, –0·13) for a 1-point increase in C-EWG score, respectively. A higher C-EWG score at 10 years was also associated with a lower CMR z-score at 24 years. No clear associations were evident at other ages. Greater adherence to UK dietary guidelines during mid-childhood was associated with a better overall cardiometabolic profile, suggesting that encouraging children to eat in this way has long-term benefits to health.
Compliance to UK dietary recommendations was assessed in school-aged children from a population-based cohort: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). A Children’s Eatwell Guide (C-EWG) score was developed to assess socio-demographic predictors of meeting dietary recommendations. ALSPAC children with plausible diet diary data at 7 years (n 5373), 10 years (n 4450) and 13 years (n 2223) were included in the study. Their dietary intakes (recorded between 1998 and 2006) were compared with dietary guidelines for total and saturated fats, free sugars, salt, fibre, protein, carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, non-oily and oily fish and red/processed meat. The C-EWG score (0–9 points) indicated the number of recommendations met at each age. Cross-sectional associations between socio-demographic characteristics and C-EWG scores were assessed using multivariable regression. The lowest adherence to guidelines at 7 years was for sugar (0·1 % meeting recommendations), followed by fibre (7·7 %), oily fish (9·5 %), saturated fat (9·7 %) and fruit and vegetables (15·2 %). Highest adherence was for limiting red/processed meat (67·3 %) and meeting carbohydrate recommendations (77·3 %). At 7 years, 12·1 % of participants failed to meet any of the nine recommendations, 26·9 % met one and 28·2 % met two. Similar patterns were seen at 10 and 13 years. A lower social class and maternal educational attainment and higher maternal BMI were associated with meeting fewer recommendations. Most school-aged children in this cohort did not meet UK dietary recommendations, particularly children from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Additional public health initiatives are needed to improve the quality of UK children’s diets, particularly targeting lower socio-economic groups.
To examine the relationship between a posteriori dietary patterns in early childhood and alcohol consumption in adolescence.
Data were obtained from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) prospective cohort study. Dietary information was obtained using FFQ at the age of 3 and 7 years. The association between dietary patterns, derived using principal components analysis and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores (to assess harmful intake) and frequency of alcohol consumption at the age of 17 years were examined. Secondary analysis considered sugar intake as a percentage of total energy intake.
Women who gave birth between 1 April 1991 and 31 December 1992 in the Avon area in southwest England were eligible for the ALSPAC cohort study.
Totally, 14 541 pregnancies were enrolled in ALSPAC during its initial recruitment phase. For this analysis, complete data were available for between 3148 and 3520 participants.
Adherence to the ‘healthy’ dietary pattern at both 3 and 7 years of age was positively associated with consuming more than one alcoholic drink per week at 17 years of age, whilst adherence to the ‘traditional’ dietary pattern at both ages was protective of harmful alcohol intake at 17 years of age. Sugar intake was not associated with either alcohol outcome after adjustment for ethnicity, maternal level of education, parental social class and maternal AUDIT score.
For the population studied, changes to diet in early childhood are unlikely to have an impact on harmful alcohol use in adolescence given the lack of consistency across the results.
The COVID-19 pandemic and mitigation measures are likely to have a marked effect on mental health. It is important to use longitudinal data to improve inferences.
To quantify the prevalence of depression, anxiety and mental well-being before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, to identify groups at risk of depression and/or anxiety during the pandemic.
Data were from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) index generation (n = 2850, mean age 28 years) and parent generation (n = 3720, mean age 59 years), and Generation Scotland (n = 4233, mean age 59 years). Depression was measured with the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire in ALSPAC and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 in Generation Scotland. Anxiety and mental well-being were measured with the Generalised Anxiety Disorder Assessment-7 and the Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale.
Depression during the pandemic was similar to pre-pandemic levels in the ALSPAC index generation, but those experiencing anxiety had almost doubled, at 24% (95% CI 23–26%) compared with a pre-pandemic level of 13% (95% CI 12–14%). In both studies, anxiety and depression during the pandemic was greater in younger members, women, those with pre-existing mental/physical health conditions and individuals in socioeconomic adversity, even when controlling for pre-pandemic anxiety and depression.
These results provide evidence for increased anxiety in young people that is coincident with the pandemic. Specific groups are at elevated risk of depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is important for planning current mental health provisions and for long-term impact beyond this pandemic.
There is evidence to suggest that individual components of dietary intake are associated with depressive symptoms. Studying the whole diet, through dietary patterns, has become popular as a way of overcoming intercorrelations between individual dietary components; however, there are conflicting results regarding associations between dietary patterns and depressive symptoms. We examined the associations between dietary patterns extracted using principal component analysis and depressive symptoms, taking account of potential temporal relationships.
Depressive symptoms in parents were assessed using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) when the study child was 3 and 5 years of age. Scores >12 were considered indicative of the presence of clinical depressive symptoms. Diet was assessed via FFQ when the study child was 4 years of age.
Longitudinal population-based birth cohort.
Mothers and fathers taking part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children when their study child was 3–5 years old.
Unadjusted results suggested that increased scores on the ‘processed’ and ‘vegetarian’ patterns in women and the ‘semi-vegetarian’ pattern in men were associated with having EPDS scores ≥13. However, after adjustment for confounders all results were attenuated. This was the case for all those with available data and when considering a sub-sample who were ‘disease free’ at baseline.
We found no association between dietary patterns and depressive symptoms after taking account of potential confounding factors and the potential temporal relationship between them. This suggests that previous studies reporting positive associations may have suffered from reverse causality and/or residual confounding.
To investigate the prospective associations between dietary patterns in childhood and CVD risk in adolescence.
Prospective cohort study. Exposures were dietary patterns at age 7, 10 and 13 years derived by cluster analysis. Outcomes were physiological and biochemical cardiovascular risk markers.
Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), UK.
Children (n 2311, 44.1 % male) with complete data available.
After adjustment for known confounders, we observed an association between being in the ‘Processed’ and ‘Packed lunch’ dietary pattern clusters at age 7 and BMI at age 17. Compared with the ‘healthy’ cluster, the OR (95 % CI) for being in the top 10 % for BMI was 1·60 (1·01, 2·55; P=0·05) for the ‘Processed’ cluster and 1·96 (1·22, 3·13; P=0·005) for the ‘Packed lunch’ cluster. However, no association was observed between BMI and dietary patterns at age 10 and 13. Longitudinal analyses showed that being in either the ‘Processed’ or ‘Packed lunch’ cluster at age 7 was associated with increased risk of being in the top 10 % for BMI regardless of subsequent cluster membership. No associations between other cardiovascular risk measures and dietary patterns were robust to adjustment for confounders.
We did not find any consistent evidence to support an association between dietary patterns in childhood and cardiovascular risk factors in adolescence, with the exception of BMI and dietary pattern at age 7 only. However, the importance of dietary intake in childhood upon health later in life requires further investigation and we would encourage the adoption of a healthy diet as early in life as possible.
The aim of this study was to assess the economic benefits of improved cognitive development related to being breast-fed. Breast-feeding rates were assessed in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Educational attainment was assessed at age 16 years with higher attainment defined as gaining five General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) passes at a high grade. The economic benefit of being breast-fed was calculated in a decision model using a child’s educational attainment and the corresponding expected value of average income in later life. There was a positive association between being breast-fed and achieving higher educational attainment, which remained significant, after adjustment for possible confounders: being breast-fed <6 months yielded an OR of 1·30 (95 % CI 1·13, 1·51) and for ≥6 months yielded an OR of 1·72 (95 % CI 1·46, 2·05), compared with never breast-fed children. On the basis of UK income statistics, the present value of lifetime gross income was calculated to be £67 500 higher for children achieving 5 high-grade GCSE passes compared with not achieving this. Therefore, the economic benefit of being breast-fed <6 months would be £4208 and that for ≥6 months would be £8799/child. The model shows that the increased educational attainment associated with being breast-fed has a positive economic benefit for society, even from small improvements in breast-feeding rates. Within a total UK birth cohort of 800 000/year an increase by 1 % in breast-feeding rates would be worth >£33·6 million over the working life of the cohort. Therefore, breast-feeding promotion is likely to be highly cost-effective and policymakers should take this into consideration.
Despite differences in obesity and ill health between urban and rural areas in the UK being well documented, very little is known about differences in dietary patterns across these areas. The present study aimed to examine whether urban/rural status is associated with dietary patterns in a population-based UK cohort study of children.
Dietary patterns were obtained using principal components analysis and cluster analysis of 3 d diet records collected from children at 10 years of age. Rurality was obtained from the 2001 UK Census urban/rural indicator at the time of dietary assessment. General linear models were used to examine the relationship between rurality and dietary pattern scores from principal components analysis; multinomial logistic regression was used to assess the association between rurality and dietary clusters.
The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), South West England.
Children (n 5677) aged 10 years (2817 boys and 2860 girls).
After adjustment, increases in rurality were associated with increased scores on the ‘health awareness’ dietary pattern (β=0·35; 95 % CI 0·14, 0·56; P<0·001 for the most rural compared with the most urban group) and lower scores on the ‘packed lunch/snack’ dietary pattern (β=−0·39; 95 % CI −0·59, −0·19; P<0·001 for the most rural compared with the most urban group). The odds ratio for participants being in the ‘healthy’ compared with the ‘processed’ dietary cluster for the most rural areas was 1·61 (95 % CI 1·05, 2·49; P=0·02) compared with those in the most urban areas.
There is evidence to suggest that differences exist in dietary patterns between rural and urban areas. Similar results were found using two different methods of dietary pattern analysis, showing that children residing in rural households were more likely to consume healthier diets than those in urban households.
To derive dietary patterns using principal components analysis from separate FFQ completed by mothers and their teenagers and to assess associations with nutrient intakes and sociodemographic variables.
Two distinct FFQ were completed by 13-year-olds and their mothers, with some overlap in the foods covered. A combined data set was obtained.
Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), Bristol, UK.
Teenagers (n 5334) with adequate dietary data.
Four patterns were obtained using principal components analysis: a ‘Traditional/health-conscious’ pattern, a ‘Processed’ pattern, a ‘Snacks/sugared drinks’ pattern and a ‘Vegetarian’ pattern. The ‘Traditional/health-conscious’ pattern was the most nutrient-rich, having high positive correlations with many nutrients. The ‘Processed’ and ‘Snacks/sugared drinks’ patterns showed little association with important nutrients but were positively associated with energy, fats and sugars. There were clear gender and sociodemographic differences across the patterns. Lower scores were seen on the ‘Traditional/health conscious’ and ‘Vegetarian’ patterns in males and in those with younger and less educated mothers. Higher scores were seen on the ‘Traditional/health-conscious’ and ‘Vegetarian’ patterns in girls and in those whose mothers had higher levels of education.
It is important to establish healthy eating patterns by the teenage years. However, this is a time when it is difficult to accurately establish dietary intake from a single source, since teenagers consume increasing amounts of foods outside the home. Further dietary pattern studies should focus on teenagers and the source of dietary data collection merits consideration.
Little is known about changes in dietary patterns over time. The present study aims to derive dietary patterns using cluster analysis at three ages in children and track these patterns over time. In all, 3 d diet diaries were completed for children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children at 7, 10 and 13 years. Children were grouped based on the similarities between average weight consumed (g/d) of sixty-two food groups using k-means cluster analysis. A total of four clusters were obtained at each age, with very similar patterns being described at each time point: Processed (high consumption of processed foods, chips and soft drinks), Healthy (high consumption of high-fibre bread, fruit, vegetables and water), Traditional (high consumption of meat, potatoes and vegetables) and Packed Lunch (high consumption of white bread, sandwich fillings and snacks). The number of children remaining in the same cluster at different ages was reasonably high: 50 and 43 % of children in the Healthy and Processed clusters, respectively, at age 7 years were in the same clusters at age 13 years. Maternal education was the strongest predictor of remaining in the Healthy cluster at each time point – children whose mothers had the highest level of education were nine times more likely to remain in that cluster compared to those with the lowest. Cluster analysis provides a simple way of examining changes in dietary patterns over time, and similar underlying patterns of diet at two ages during late childhood, that persisted through to early adolescence.
To examine how the dietary patterns of children at various time points throughout childhood relate to estimated nutrient intakes.
FFQ at 3, 4, 7 and 9 years of age were completed by mothers. Dietary patterns were identified cross-sectionally using principal component analysis; ‘processed’, ‘health conscious’ and ‘traditional’ patterns were consistently obtained. Correlations between pattern scores and nutrient intakes and proportions of variance in nutrients explained by the patterns were calculated.
Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), Bristol, UK.
Children provided data between 3 and 9 years of age (n 8010 to 10 023).
Dietary patterns explained substantial proportions of the variance of the absolute intake for most nutrients (>25 % at 3 years of age, >40 % other ages). After energy adjustment, protein, fibre, K, Mg, Fe, Zn, folate, thiamin and vitamin B6 continued to be well explained. Strong correlations were observed between the ‘processed’ pattern and macronutrients including energy (r = 0·481–0·619), total fat (r = 0·529–0·662) and total sugar (r = 0·475–0·693). However correlations with most micronutrients were reversed after energy adjustment, suggesting that the ‘processed’ pattern is energy-dense but nutrient-poor. The ‘health conscious’ and ‘traditional’ patterns were strongly positively correlated with protein, fibre and most micronutrients, whether energy adjusted or not. Higher scores on these patterns were associated with a better nutrient profile.
Dietary patterns explain a reasonable amount of the variation in the nutrient content of diets. Higher scores on the ‘health conscious’ and ‘traditional’ dietary patterns were related to better nutrient profiles; conversely, with higher scores on the ‘processed’ pattern the nutrient profile was poorer.
Principal components analysis (PCA) is a popular method for deriving dietary patterns. A number of decisions must be made throughout the analytic process, including how to quantify the input variables of the PCA. The present study aims to compare the effect of using different input variables on the patterns extracted using PCA on 3-d diet diary data collected from 7473 children, aged 10 years, in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Four options were examined: weight consumed of each food group (g/d), energy-adjusted weight, percentage contribution to energy of each food group and binary intake (consumed/not consumed). Four separate PCA were performed, one for each intake measurement. Three or four dietary patterns were obtained from each analysis, with at least one component that described ‘more healthy’ and ‘less healthy’ diets and one component that described a diet with high consumption of meat, potatoes and vegetables. There were no obvious differences between the patterns derived using percentage energy as a measurement and adjusting weight for total energy intake, compared to those derived using gram weights. Using binary input variables yielded a component that loaded positively on reduced fat and reduced sugar foods. The present results suggest that food intakes quantified by gram weights or as binary variables both resulted in meaningful dietary patterns and each method has distinct advantages: weight takes into account the amount of each food consumed and binary intake appears to describe general food preferences, which are potentially easier to modify and useful in public health settings.
There is limited knowledge about dietary patterns and nutrient/food intake during pregnancy in women with lifetime eating disorders (ED). The objective of the present study was to determine patterns of food and nutrient intake in women with lifetime ED as part of an existing longitudinal population-based cohort: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Women with singleton pregnancies and no lifetime psychiatric disorders other than ED (n 9723) were compared with women who reported lifetime (ever) ED: (anorexia nervosa (AN, n 151), bulimia nervosa (BN, n 186) or both (AN+BN, n 77)). Women reported usual food consumption using a FFQ at 32 weeks of gestation. Nutrient intakes, frequency of consumption of food groups and overall dietary patterns were examined. Women with lifetime ED were compared with control women using linear regression and logistic regression (as appropriate) after adjustment for relevant covariates, and for multiple comparisons. Women with lifetime ED scored higher on the ‘vegetarian’ dietary pattern; they had a lower intake of meat, which was compensated by a higher consumption of soya products and pulses compared with the controls. Lifetime AN increased the risk for a high ( ≥ 2500 g/week) caffeine consumption in pregnancy. No deficiencies in mineral and vitamin intake were evident across the groups, although small differences were observed in macronutrient intakes. In conclusion, despite some differences in food group consumption, women with lifetime ED had similar patterns of nutrient intake to healthy controls. Important differences in relation to meat eating and vegetarianism were highlighted, as well as high caffeine consumption. These differences might have an important impact on fetal development.
To investigate associations between dietary intakes throughout childhood and age at menarche, a possible indicator of future risk of disease, in a contemporary cohort of British girls.
Diet was assessed by FFQ at 3 and 7 years of age, and by a 3 d unweighed food diary at 10 years. Age at menarche was categorised as before or after 12 years 8 months, a point close to the median age in this cohort.
Bristol, South-West England.
Girls (n 3298) participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.
Higher energy intakes at 10 years were positively associated with the early occurrence of menarche, but this association was removed on adjusting for body size. Total and animal protein intakes at 3 and 7 years were positively associated with age at menarche ≤12 years 8 months (adjusted OR for a 1 sd increase in protein at 7 years: 1·14 (95 % CI 1·04, 1·26)). Higher PUFA intakes at 3 and 7 years were also positively associated with early occurrence of menarche. Meat intake at 3 and 7 years was strongly positively associated with reaching menarche by 12 years 8 months (OR for menarche in the highest v. lowest category of meat consumption at 7 years: 1·75 (95 % CI 1·25, 2·44)).
These data suggest that higher intakes of protein and meat in early to mid-childhood may lead to earlier menarche. This may have implications for the lifetime risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis.
This study assesses the stability of dietary patterns obtained using principal components analysis (PCA) through early to mid-childhood. Dietary data were collected from children in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ALSPAC). Frequency of consumption of a range of food items was recorded by mothers using self-completion postal questionnaires when their children were 3, 4, 7 and 9 years of age. Dietary patterns were identified using PCA and component scores were calculated at each time-point. In total 6177 children had data available at all four time-points. Three patterns were consistently seen across time: the ‘processed’, ‘traditional’ and ‘health conscious’ patterns. At 3 years an additional ‘snack’ pattern was obtained and at 9 years the ‘health conscious’ pattern was slightly modified (meat products were negatively associated). High correlations were evident for all three scores between each pair of time-points. The widest limits of agreement were seen for all pairings between the 3 and 9 years data, whilst the narrowest were seen between the 4 and 7 years data. A reasonable level of agreement was seen with the categorised component scores from each time-point of data (κ ranging from 0·28 to 0·47). Virtually identical dietary patterns were obtained at the ages of 4 and 7; however, periods of change were apparent between the ages of 3 and 4 and the ages of 7 and 9. It is important to make regular dietary assessments during childhood in order to assess accurately the effects of diet on future health outcomes.
Few studies have examined the longitudinal nature of dietary patterns obtained using principal components analysis (PCA); the methods used are inconsistent. This paper investigates the methodologies used to assess stability and changes in such patterns. Pregnant women recorded frequency of consumption of various food items as part of regular self-completed questionnaires in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. This was repeated when their children were 4 years of age; 8953 women provided data at both times. Dietary patterns were identified using PCA and component scores were calculated at each time point. Additional ‘applied’ scores were created at 4 years using the loadings obtained from the PCA on the pregnancy data. Correlations were similar for each component across the time points, though slightly larger using the applied method. The applied scores were considerably lower on average than those obtained from separate PCA at 4 years. Women's scores decreased on ‘health conscious’ and ‘confectionery’ components while ‘processed’ and ‘vegetarian’ scores both increased over the 4-year period. In contrast, applied scores were systematically lower for all components. When split into quintiles, weighted κ was slightly higher between pregnancy and applied 4-year scores compared to the separate scores. In this cohort it was felt that the ‘applied’ method to obtain scores at the second time point was inappropriate, primarily due to the differences in FFQ between the two time points. We recommend that future studies using such ‘applied’ scores compare them with cross-sectional scores and consider the implications of any differences.
Despite the recent popularity in the use of dietary patterns to investigate diet–disease associations, the associations between dietary patterns and nutrient intakes have not been fully explored. This paper determines the linear and non-linear associations between estimated nutrient intake (considered as both absolute and relative intake) and distinct dietary patterns, obtained during the third trimester of pregnancy using principal components analysis (PCA). It also examines the proportion of variability explained by the patterns in food and nutrient intakes. Pregnant women were asked to record the frequency of consumption of a variety of food items as part of regular self-completion questionnaires, the primary source of data collection in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, 12 035 cases were available. Individual dietary components were identified using PCA and scores on these components were related to estimated nutrient intakes. Five individual dietary patterns were established to best describe the types of diet being consumed in pregnancy. Scores on the ‘processed’ and ‘confectionery’ patterns were negatively related to the estimated intake of most nutrients with the exception of energy, fats and sugars, which increased with higher scores. Scores on the ‘health-conscious’ and ‘traditional’ components showed positive linear relationships with all nutrients. The results presented here suggest that dietary patterns adequately characterize dietary intake. There is, therefore, potential for dietary patterns to be used as a valid tool in assessing the relationship between diet and health outcomes, and dietary pattern scores could be used as covariates in specific nutrient–disease studies.