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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Nicklas, Theresa
item Yang, Su-jau
item Baranowski, Thomas
item Zakeri, Issa
item Berenson, Gerald

Submitted to: American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2003
Publication Date: 7/1/2003
Citation: Nicklas TA, Yang SJ, Baranowski T, Zakeri I, Berenson G. 2003. Eating patterns and obesity in children: the Bogalusa Heart Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 25(1):9-16.

Interpretive Summary: Over the past 20 years, there have been tremendous, alarming increases in the numbers of overweight and obese American children. This is a huge health problem because overweight kids tend to become overweight adults, who have a propensity to develop high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases which are taking an enormous financial, physical and emotional toll on American families and the U.S. health care system. We wanted to look for any connections we could find between meal patterns and overweight status in children, based on information provided from a dietary recall representing one day of food reportedly eaten by 10-year-old female and male, white and black children living in a small town in rural Louisiana. A total of 24 percent of the children were obese, and most of those were white males. Overweight status was associated with the consumption of sweet drinks, primarily sodas; food termed low-quality; and total amount of food consumed at lunch and dinner. This supports other recent studies suggesting that the contemporary American trends of overeating, and consuming increasing quantities of unhealthy fast food and beverages, have led to our current national epidemic of obesity among both adults and children. This should contribute useful information on which to build public relations campaigns targeted at helping people understand how to practice healthy food consumption patterns so they can avoid obesity and related diseases.

Technical Abstract: Childhood obesity is a growing public health problem. This study examined the association between eating patterns and overweight status in children who participated in the Bogalusa Heart Study. A single 24-hour dietary recall was collected on a cross-sectional sample of 1562 children aged 10 years (65% Euro-American [EA], 35% African American [AA]) over a 21-year period. Overweight was defined as body mass index greater than the 85th percentile using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reference standards. Multivariate logistic regression was used to investigate the association between eating patterns and overweight. Consumption of sweetened beverages (58% soft drinks, 20% fruit flavor drinks, 19% tea, and 3% coffee) (p<0.001); sweets (desserts, candy, and sweetened beverages) (p<0.001); meats (mixed meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, pork, and beef) (p<0.051); and total consumption of low-quality foods (p<0.01) were positively associated with overweight status. Total amount of food consumed, specifically from snacks, was positively associated with overweight status (p<0.05). There was a lack of congruency in the types of eating patterns associated with overweight status across four ethnic-gender groups. The percent variance explained from the eating pattern-overweight models was very small. The interaction of ethnicity and gender was significantly associated with overweight status (p<0.001). The odds of being overweight for EA males were 1.2 times higher than for AA females. These results demonstrate that numerous eating patterns were associated with overweight status, yet the odds of being overweight were very small. Additional studies are needed to confirm these findings in a longitudinal sample having multiple days of assessment.

Last Modified: 06/28/2017
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