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Independent contribution of parental migrant status and educational level to adiposity and eating habits in preschool children

Abstract

Background/Objective:

Little is known about the precise role of parental migrant status (MS) and educational level (EL) on adiposity and various eating habits in young children. Therefore, we assessed their independent contribution in preschoolers.

Subjects/Methods:

Of 655 randomly selected preschoolers, 542 (5.1±0.6 years; 71% of parental MS and 37% of low parental EL) were analysed. Body composition was measured by bioelectrical impedance. Eating habits were assessed using a semiqualitative food frequency questionnaire and analysed according to five messages developed by the Swiss Society for Nutrition, based on factors implicated in childhood obesity: (1) ‘Drinking water and decreasing sweetened drinks’, (2) ‘Eating fruit and vegetables’, (3) ‘Decreasing breakfast skipping’, (4) ‘Reducing fatty and sweet foods’ and (5) ‘Reducing the intake of meals and snacks in front of television’.

Results:

Children of migrant and low EL parents had higher body fat, ate more meals and snacks while watching television and had more fruit and fatty foods compared with their respective counterparts (all P0.04). Children of low EL parents also consumed less water and vegetables compared with their counterparts (all P0.04). In most instances, we found an independent contribution of parental MS and EL to adiposity and eating habits. A more pronounced effect was found if both parents were migrants or of low EL. Differences in adiposity and eating habits were relatively similar to the joint parental data when assessed individually for maternal and paternal MS and EL.

Conclusions:

Parental MS and EL are independently related to adiposity and various eating habits in preschoolers.

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Acknowledgements

This study was principally supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant No. 3200B0-116837) and Health Promotion Switzerland (Project No. 2104). Additional funding was obtained from a research award for Interdisciplinary Research from the University of Lausanne, a Takeda research award, the Wyeth Foundation for the Health of children and adolescents, the Freie Akademische Gesellschaft and an unrestricted educational grant from Nestlé. We thank Professors R Gaillard, S Fanconi and F Ohl who had helped to make this study possible. A special thank to all the children, their parents, the schoolteachers and the respective school health services.

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Correspondence to V Ebenegger.

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Ebenegger, V., Marques-Vidal, PM., Nydegger, A. et al. Independent contribution of parental migrant status and educational level to adiposity and eating habits in preschool children. Eur J Clin Nutr 65, 210–218 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2010.248

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2010.248

Keywords

  • adiposity
  • children
  • preschool
  • education
  • migrants
  • parents

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