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Ultra-Processed Food Intake and Associations With Demographic Factors in Young New Zealand Children

Published:October 21, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2020.08.088

      Abstract

      Background

      Children consume ultra-processed food (UPF) from a young age, but the proportional contribution of UPF to young children’s total energy intakes has not been evaluated in developed countries.

      Objectives

      To describe UPF intake and associations with demographic factors in young children from 12 to 60 months of age.

      Design

      Cohort study comprising a secondary analysis of data from a randomized controlled trial. Demographic data were collected by questionnaire. At 12, 24, and 60 months of age validated food frequency questionnaires estimated percentage of energy intake from UPF (%kcal UPF).

      Participants/setting

      The 669 children were born in Dunedin, New Zealand, between May 2009 and December 2010.

      Main outcome measures

      Mean percentage of energy intake from UPF at 12, 24, and 60 months of age, mean differences in %kcal UPF by demographic variables.

      Statistical analyses performed

      Mixed effects regression models were used to estimate relationships between demographics and %kcal UPF. Multiple imputation methods were used to impute missing UPF data.

      Results

      UPF contributed mean (95% confidence interval) 45% (44%, 47%), 42% (41%, 44%), and 51% (50%, 52%) of energy intake to the diets of children at 12, 24, and 60 months of age, respectively. Energy intake from UPF was moderately correlated between 24 and 60 months (r = 0.36). No demographic factors were associated with mean %kcal UPF across time points, except for maternal obesity predicting higher UPF intake at 12 months. Bread, yoghurt, crackers, whole-wheat breakfast cereal, sausages, and muesli bars were among the 10 foods making the greatest contribution to mean %kcal UPF intakes at all time points.

      Conclusions

      UPF contribute a substantial proportion of energy to the diets of young children. A range of foods with varying nutritional profiles contribute to these high intakes.

      Keywords

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      Biography

      L. J. Fangupo is a PhD student, Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

      Biography

      J. J. Haszard is a senior research fellow, Centre for Biostatistics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

      Biography

      B. J. Taylor is a research professor, Office of the Dean, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

      Biography

      A. R. Gray is a senior research fellow, Centre for Biostatistics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

      Biography

      J. A. Lawrence is a research fellow, Department of Women and Children’s Health, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

      Biography

      R. W. Taylor is from the Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.