A previous study demonstrated that dietary counselling for mothers during the first year of life improved overall diet quality of children at pre-school age in a low-income population. Thus, the objective of the present study was to assess the long-term effect of this intervention on diet quality of children at school age and examine the tracking of dietary intake throughout childhood. The present study was a follow-up of a randomised controlled trial with children who were assessed at 3-4 years (n 345) and 7-8 years (n 307) of age. We collected two 24 h dietary recalls and assessed diet quality using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI). Analyses were performed by group using a paired t test and a Student's t test for independent samples. Diet quality did not differ between the intervention and control groups at 7-8 years of age (HEI score 65·2 (sd 9·5) v. 64·9 (sd 8·5)). Regarding changes in diet quality from pre-school to school age, we observed the tracking of diet quality in the control group and the loss of the intervention effect in the intervention group. In both groups, the score for fruit and milk intake decreased, while that for saturated fat and dietary variety intake increased. The score for the intakes of grains, meat and legumes, and total fat remained constant for all children. The present data provide evidence that diet quality tracks during childhood since the total HEI score did not differ over time in the control group. The decrease in score for some HEI components did not affect the overall diet quality due to the increase in score for other HEI components.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Nutrition and Dietetics
- Longitudinal studies