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Studying the dynamic patterns of dietary changes or stability (otherwise known as dietary trajectories) across the life course can provide important information about when and in whom to intervene with nutritional interventions. This article reviews evidence from longitudinal studies that describe dietary trajectories through the different life stages, covering early life, adolescence to young adulthood and from mid to late adulthood. Current findings suggest that the establishment of diet patterns likely occurs before 3 years of age and allude to other potential ‘windows of change’ in the life course such as the period of 7–9 years of age and during the period of adolescence and early adulthood. Examining diets using various diet parameters appears to be valuable in elucidating different aspects of the diet that can be changed to potentially alter trajectories. In adults, examining long-term diet trends at a population level can reveal shifts in eating patterns as countries undergo epidemiological and nutrition transitions and elucidate the longer-term impact of adherence to particular diets on the development of chronic diseases. While challenges such as the availability of adequate diet data points, consistency in the dietary assessment tools used and the limitations of statistical methods for trajectory modelling remain, integrating diet data with other lifestyle behaviours, high-dimensional biomarkers and genetics data into pattern analyses and examining them from a longitudinal approach, open up potential opportunities to gain deeper insights into diet–disease relationships and support the development of more holistic lifestyle disease prevention recommendations stratified for population groups.
This study aimed to examine the intrapersonal, interpersonal, environmental and macrosystem influences on dietary behaviours among primary school children in Singapore.
A qualitative interpretive approach was used in this study. Focus group discussions guided by the socio-ecological model (sem), of which transcripts were analysed deductively using the sem and inductively using thematic analysis to identify themes at each sem level.
Two co-educational public primary schools in Singapore.
A total of 48 children (n 26 girls) took part in the semi-structured focus group discussions. Their mean age was 10·8 years (sd = 0·9, range 9–12 years), and the majority of the children were Chinese (n 36), along with some Indians (n 8) and Malays (n 4).
Children’s knowledge of healthy eating did not necessarily translate into healthy dietary practices and concern for health was a low priority. Instead, food and taste preferences were pivotal influences in their food choices. Parents had a large influence on children with regards to their accessibility to food, their attitudes and values towards food. Parental food restriction led to some children eating in secrecy. Peer influence was not frequently reported by children. Competitions in school incentivised children to consume fruits and vegetables, but reinforcements from teachers were inconsistent. The proximity of fast-food chains in the neighbourhood provided children easy access to less healthy foods. Health advertisements on social media rather than posters worked better in drawing children’s attention.
Findings highlighted important factors that should be considered in future nutrition interventions targeting children.
Advances in technology enabled the development of a web-based, pictorial FFQ to collect parent-report dietary intakes of 7-year-old children in the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes study. This study aimed to compare intakes estimated from a paper-FFQ and a web-FFQ and examine the relative validity of both FFQ against 3-d diet records (3DDR). Ninety-two mothers reported food intakes of their 7-year-old child on a paper-FFQ, a web-FFQ and a 3DDR. A usability questionnaire collected participants’ feedback on the web-FFQ. Correlations and agreement in energy, nutrients and food groups intakes between the dietary assessments were evaluated using Pearson’s correlation, Lin’s concordance, Bland–Altman plots, Cohen’s κ and tertile classification. The paper- and web-FFQ had good correlations (≥ 0·50) and acceptable-good agreement (Lin’s concordance ≥ 0·30; Cohen’s κ ≥ 0·41; ≥ 50 % correct and ≤ 10 % misclassification into same or extreme tertiles). Compared with 3DDR, both FFQ showed poor agreement (< 0·30) in assessing absolute intakes except micronutrients (web-FFQ had acceptable-good agreement), but showed acceptable-good ability to classify children into tertiles (κ ≥ 0·21; ≥ 40 % and ≤ 15 % correct or misclassification). Bland–Altman plots suggest good agreement between web-FFQ and 3DDR in assessing micronutrients and several food groups. The web-FFQ was well-received, and majority (81 %) preferred the web-FFQ over the paper-FFQ. The newly developed web-FFQ produced intake estimates comparable to the paper-FFQ, has acceptable-good agreement with 3DDR in assessing absolute micronutrients intakes and has acceptable-good ability to classify children according to categories of intakes. The positive acceptance of the web-FFQ makes it a feasible tool for future dietary data collection.
There is limited data on the dietary patterns of 5-year-old children in Asia. The study examined childhood dietary patterns and their maternal and child correlates in a multi-ethnic Asian cohort. Based on caregiver-reported 1-month quantitative FFQ of 777 children from the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes cohort, cluster analysis identified two mutually exclusive clusters. Children in the ‘Unhealthy’ cluster (43·9 %) consumed more fries, processed meat, biscuits and ice cream, and less fish, fruits and vegetables compared with those in the ‘Healthy’ cluster (56·1 %). Children with mothers of lower educational attainment had twice the odds of being assigned to the ‘Unhealthy’ cluster (adjusted OR (95 % CI) = 2·19 (95 % CI 1·49–3·24)). Children of Malay and Indian ethnicities had higher odds of being assigned to the ‘Unhealthy’ cluster (adjusted OR = 25·46 (95 % CI 15·40, 42·10) and 4·03 (95 % CI 2·68–6·06), respectively), relative to Chinese ethnicity. In conclusion, this study identified two dietary patterns in children, labelled as the ‘Unhealthy’ and ‘Healthy’ clusters. Mothers’ educational attainment and ethnicity were two correlates that were associated with the children’s assignments to the clusters. These findings can assist in informing health promotion programmes targeted at Asian children.
Recent evidence suggests that synchronizing eating-fasting schedules with body's circadian rhythms or day-night cycles is important for metabolic health. Besides food quantity and quality, food timing may contribute to weight regulation. However, it is unclear if this factor during pregnancy can influence maternal weight retention after childbirth. Using data from a prospective cohort, the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) study, we examined the associations of maternal circadian eating pattern and diet quality in pregnancy with substantial postpartum weight retention (PPWR) at 18 months. We assessed 687 pregnant women for their circadian eating pattern (night-eating, night-fasting and eating episodes) and diet quality (Healthy Eating Index) based on information derived from 24-h dietary recall at 26–28 weeks’ gestation. Night-eating was defined as > 50% of total energy intake during 1900–0659 h; night-fasting duration was determined based on the longest fasting interval between consumption of a calorie-containing food or beverage during 1900–0659 h; eating episodes were defined as events that provided ≥ 210 kJ with time intervals between eating episodes of ≥ 15 min; diet quality was ascertained using the Healthy Eating Index which measures adherence to the Singapore dietary guidelines for pregnant women. PPWR was calculated by subtracting the weight at the first antenatal clinic visit from weight at 18-month postpartum. Substantial PPWR was defined as weight retention of 5 kg or more. Adjusting for maternal age, ethnicity, education, parity, night shift, mood, body mass index and total energy intake, multivariable binary logistic regression analysis was performed to estimate odds ratio (OR) of substantial PPWR in relation to circadian eating pattern and diet quality. Of 687 women, 110 (16%) had substantial PPWR. After confounders adjustment, night-eating (OR 1.95; 95% confidence interval 1.05, 3.62) and lower diet quality (1.91; 1.17, 3.10) were independently associated with higher odds of substantial PPWR. No associations with substantial PPWR were observed for night-fasting duration and number of eating episodes. During pregnancy, women with higher caloric consumption at night and lower diet quality had a greater likelihood of substantial PPWR. These findings suggest that aligning eating time with day-night cycles and adherence to dietary guidelines during pregnancy may help to alleviate overweight and obesity risk in postpartum life. There is a possibility that these eating patterns persist beyond pregnancy and pose implications for long-term obesity development. Further investigation on this area is required.
Maternal and child health are intrinsically linked. With accumulating evidence over the past two decades supporting the developmental origins of health and diseases hypothesis, it is now widely recognised that nutrition in the first 1000 d sets the foundation for long-term health. Maternal diet before, during and after pregnancy can influence the developmental pathways of the fetus and lead to health consequences later in life. While maternal and infant mortality rates have declined significantly in the past two decades, the growing burden of obesity and chronic non-communicable diseases in women of reproductive age and children is on a rapid rise worldwide, in developed and developing countries. A key contributory factor is malnutrition, which is a consequence of consuming poor quality diets. Suboptimal macronutrient balance and micronutrient inadequacies can lead to undesirable maternal body composition and metabolism, in turn influencing the health of the mother and leading to longer-term metabolic and cognitive health consequences in the infant. The GUSTO (Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes) study, a mother–offspring multi-ethnic cohort study in Singapore, has contributed to this body of evidence over the past 10 years. This review will illustrate how nutritional epidemiological research through a birth cohort has illuminated the importance and urgency of maternal and child nutrition and health in a modern, industrialised setting. It underscores the importance of a number of critical nutrients during pregnancy, in combination with healthy dietary patterns and appropriate meal timing, for optimal maternal and child health.
Dietary intake of toddlers has been of growing interest due to its long-term consequences on health. However, previous works have focused largely on Caucasian populations and less is known about Asian toddlers. We aimed to validate a semi-quantitative FFQ designed to assess dietary intakes of 18-month-old toddlers in a multi-ethnic Asian cohort.
An FFQ of ninety-four food items, identified based on food records of 12-month-old GUSTO children, the Southampton Women’s Survey 12 Month Infancy Questionnaire and inputs from paediatric dietitians, was filled out two weeks before the 18th-month clinic visit. As the reference method, two non-consecutive 24 h recalls (24HR) were administered during and two weeks after the clinic visit. FFQ nutrient intakes were validated against averaged 24HR nutrient intakes, using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test, Spearman’s rank-order correlation, cross-classification and the Bland–Altman method.
Data from the Singapore Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) mother–offspring birth cohort.
Toddlers (n 188) aged 18 months.
Absolute nutrient intakes from the FFQ were significantly higher than from the 24HR, except for vitamin A. After energy adjustments, r range was 0·56–0·78 (macronutrients) and 0·40–0·54 (micronutrients). De-attenuation increased r to 0·58–0·96 and 0·45–0·65 for macro- and micronutrients, respectively. Of participants, ≥82·4 % (macronutrients) and ≥77·7 % (micronutrients) were classified in the same and adjacent quartiles. No clear systematic increase in intake differences with increasing mean intake was observed in Bland–Altman plots.
This FFQ can provide a satisfactory assessment of toddlers’ energy-adjusted nutrient intakes, as well as accurately rank them in a group.
Early life nutrition and feeding practices are important modifiable determinants of subsequent obesity, yet little is known about the circadian feeding pattern of 12-month-old infants. We aimed to describe the 24-h feeding patterns of 12-month-old infants and examine their associations with maternal and infant characteristics. Mothers from a prospective birth cohort study (n 431) reported dietary intakes of their 12-month-old infants and respective feeding times using 24-h dietary recall. Based on their feeding times, infants were classified into post-midnight (00.00–05.59 hours) and pre-midnight (06.00–23.59 hours) feeders. Mean daily energy intake was 3234 (sd 950) kJ (773 (sd 227) kcal), comprising 51·8 (sd 7·8) % carbohydrate, 33·9 (sd 7·2) % fat and 14·4 (sd 3·2) % protein. Mean hourly energy intake and proportion of infants fed were lower during post-midnight than pre-midnight hours. There were 251 (58·2 %) pre-midnight and 180 (41·8 %) post-midnight feeders. Post-midnight feeders consumed higher daily energy, carbohydrate, fat and protein intakes than pre-midnight feeders (all P<0·001). The difference in energy intake originated from energy content consumed during the post-midnight period. Majority (n 173) of post-midnight feeders consumed formula milk during the post-midnight period. Using multivariate logistic regression with confounder adjustment, exclusively breast-feeding during the first 6 months of life was negatively associated with post-midnight feeding at 12 months (adjusted OR 0·31; 95 % CI 0·11, 0·82). This study provides new insights into the circadian pattern of energy intake during infancy. Our findings indicated that the timing of feeding at 12 months was associated with daily energy and macronutrient intakes, and feeding mode during early infancy.
Maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy has been associated with infant birth and postnatal growth outcomes, but reported findings have been inconsistent, especially in relation to postnatal growth and adiposity outcomes. In a mother–offspring cohort in Singapore, maternal plasma vitamin D was measured between 26 and 28 weeks of gestation, and anthropometric measurements were obtained from singleton offspring during the first 2 years of life with 3-month follow-up intervals to examine birth, growth and adiposity outcomes. Associations were analysed using multivariable linear regression. Of a total of 910 mothers, 13·2 % were vitamin D deficient (<50 nmol/l) and 26·5 % were insufficient (50–75 nmol/l). After adjustment for potential confounders and multiple testing, no statistically significant associations were observed between maternal vitamin D status and any of the birth outcomes – small for gestational age (OR 1·00; 95 % CI 0·56, 1·79) and pre-term birth (OR 1·16; 95 % CI 0·64, 2·11) – growth outcomes – weight-for-age z-scores, length-for-age z-scores, circumferences of the head, abdomen and mid-arm at birth or postnatally – and adiposity outcomes – BMI, and skinfold thickness (triceps, biceps and subscapular) at birth or postnatally. Maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy did not influence infant birth outcomes, postnatal growth and adiposity outcomes in this cohort, perhaps due to the low prevalence (1·6 % of the cohort) of severe maternal vitamin D deficiency (defined as of <30·0 nmol/l) in our population.
Little is known about the influences of maternal and infant correlates on maternal feeding beliefs and practices in the first 2 years of life, despite its important role in early obesogenic eating behaviours and weight gain.
Cross-sectional study using demographic data of mothers and infants obtained at 26–28 weeks of gestation, and postnatally from birth to 15 months, respectively. The Infant Feeding Questionnaire was administered at 15 months postpartum. The associations between maternal and infant characteristics with seven maternal feeding beliefs and practices subscales were evaluated using multivariate linear regression analysis.
Data obtained from the Singapore GUSTO (Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes) mother–offspring birth cohort.
Mothers and infants (n 1237).
Among other maternal correlates such as age, education, BMI, income and milk feeding practices, ethnicity was a consistent factor associated with six subscales, including concern about infant overeating/undereating and weight status, concern and awareness about infants’ hunger and satiety cues, social interaction during feeding and feeding an infant on schedule. Similarly, among infant correlates such as gender and birth order, infant body size gain (reflected by BMI Z-score change from 0 to 15 months) was significantly associated with all subscales except feeding an infant on schedule. Overall, maternal correlates had greater influence on all subscales compared with infant correlates except for the maternal concern about infant undereating or becoming underweight subscale.
The present study highlights that maternal feeding beliefs and practices can be influenced by both maternal correlates and infant correlates at 15 months of age.
Little is known about the influence of meal timing and energy consumption patterns throughout the day on glucose regulation during pregnancy. We examined the association of maternal feeding patterns with glycaemic levels among lean and overweight pregnant women. In a prospective cohort study in Singapore, maternal 24-h dietary recalls, fasting glucose (FG) and 2-h postprandial glucose (2HPPG) concentrations were measured at 26–28 weeks of gestation. Women (n 985) were classified into lean (BMI<23 kg/m2) or overweight (BMI≥23 kg/m2) groups. They were further categorised as predominantly daytime (pDT) or predominantly night-time (pNT) feeders according to consumption of greater proportion of energy content from 07.00 to 18.59 hours or from 19.00 to 06.59 hours, respectively. On stratification by weight status, lean pNT feeders were found to have higher FG than lean pDT feeders (4·36 (sd 0·38) v. 4·22 (sd 0·35) mmol/l; P=0·002); however, such differences were not observed between overweight pDT and pNT feeders (4·49 (sd 0·60) v. 4·46 (sd 0·45) mmol/l; P=0·717). Using multiple linear regression with confounder adjustment, pNT feeding was associated with higher FG in the lean group (β=0·16 mmol/l; 95 % CI 0·05, 0·26; P=0·003) but not in the overweight group (β=0·02 mmol/l; 95 % CI −0·17, 0·20; P=0·879). No significant association was found between maternal feeding pattern and 2HPPG in both the lean and the overweight groups. In conclusion, pNT feeding was associated with higher FG concentration in lean but not in overweight pregnant women, suggesting that there may be an adiposity-dependent effect of maternal feeding patterns on glucose tolerance during pregnancy.
To assess the association between maternal caffeine intake and risk of pregnancy loss using a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Categorical and dose–response meta-analysis of prospective studies.
Relevant articles were identified by searching MEDLINE and SCOPUS databases through 30 January 2015. Two authors independently extracted information from eligible studies. Random-effects models were used to derive the summary relative risks (RR) and corresponding 95 % CI for specific categories of caffeine consumption and for a continuous association using generalized least-squares trend estimation.
A total of 130 456 participants and 3429 cases in fourteen included studies.
Compared with the reference category with no or very low caffeine intake, the RR (95 % CI) of pregnancy loss was 1·02 (0·85, 1·24; I2=28·3 %) for low intake (50–149 mg/d), 1·16 (0·94, 1·41; I2=49·6 %) for moderate intake (150–349 mg/d), 1·40 (1·16, 1·68; I2=18·6 %) for high intake (350–699 mg/d) and 1·72 (1·40, 2·13; I2=0·0 %) for very high intake (≥700 mg/d). In the dose–response analysis, each 100 mg/d increment in maternal caffeine intake (~1 cup of coffee) was associated with 7 % (95 % CI 3 %, 12 %) higher risk of pregnancy loss. Our results may have been affected by publication bias, but the association remained significant for the subset of larger studies. Furthermore, adjustment for smoking and pregnancy symptoms may have been incomplete, potentially resulting in residual confounding.
Albeit inconclusive, higher maternal caffeine intake was associated with a higher risk of pregnancy loss and adherence to guidelines to avoid high caffeine intake during pregnancy appears prudent.
Studies have suggested that maternal PUFA status during pregnancy may influence early childhood allergic diseases, although findings are inconsistent. We examined the relationship between maternal PUFA status and risk of allergic diseases in early childhood in an Asian cohort. Maternal plasma samples from the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes mother–offspring cohort were assayed at 26–28 weeks of gestation for relative abundance of PUFA. Offspring (n 960) were followed up from 3 weeks to 18 months of age, and clinical outcomes of potential allergic diseases (rhinitis, eczema and wheezing) were assessed by repeated questionnaires. Skin prick testing (SPT) was also performed at the age of 18 months. Any allergic disease with positive SPT was defined as having any one of the clinical outcomes plus a positive SPT. The prevalence of a positive SPT, rhinitis, eczema, wheezing and any allergic disease with positive SPT was 14·1 % (103/728), 26·5 % (214/808), 17·6 % (147/833), 10·9 % (94/859) and 9·4 % (62/657), respectively. After adjustment for confounders, maternal total n-3, n-6 PUFA status and the n-6:n-3 PUFA ratio were not significantly associated with offspring rhinitis, eczema, wheezing, a positive SPT and having any allergic disease with positive SPT in the offspring (P>0·01 for all). A weak trend of higher maternal n-3 PUFA being associated with higher risk of allergic diseases with positive SPT in offspring was observed. These findings do not support the hypothesis that the risk of early childhood allergic diseases is modified by variation in maternal n-3 and n-6 PUFA status during pregnancy in an Asian population.
To examine changes in food consumption during pregnancy and the postpartum period in women of major Asian ethnic groups.
Using interviewer-administered questionnaires, we assessed changes in food consumption during pregnancy (26–28 weeks’ gestation) and the postpartum period (3 weeks after delivery) as compared with the usual pre-pregnancy diet.
Pregnant women (n 1027) of Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnicity (mean age 30·4 (sd 5·2) years) who participated in the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) study.
During pregnancy, participants tended to increase their consumption of milk, fruit and vegetables and decrease their consumption of tea, coffee, soft drinks and seafood (all P < 0·001). Most participants reported adherence to traditional restrictions (‘confinement’) during the early postpartum period (Chinese: 94·8 %, Malay: 91·6 %, Indian: 79·6 %). During the postpartum period, participants tended to increase their consumption of fish and milk-based drinks and decrease their consumption of noodles, seafood, and chocolates and sweets (all P < 0·001). Ethnic differences in food consumption were pronounced during the postpartum period. For example, most Chinese participants (87·2 %) increased their ginger consumption during the postpartum period as compared with smaller percentages of Malays (31·8 %) and Indians (40·8 %; P for ethnic difference <0·001). Similar ethnic differences were observed for cooking wine/alcohol, herbs and spices, and herbal tea consumption.
Marked changes in food consumption that reflect both modern dietary recommendations and the persistence of traditional beliefs were observed in Singaporean women during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Traditional beliefs should be considered in interventions to improve dietary intakes during these periods.
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