PhD defence: Dietary patterns in Childhood

PhD frontpageLouise Beltoft Borup Andersen is defending her PhD thesis

Dietary patterns in Childhood

- Relation to Growth, Obesity and Parental Characteristics


31 October 2014, 13:00


Auditorium A1-01.01, Festauditoriet, Bülowsvej 17, Frederiksberg.


Professor Lars Ove Dragsted (chair), Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Pauline Emmett, University of Bristol, England

Florent Baty, Klinik für Pneumologie/Schlafmedicin, Switzerland


Professor Christian Mølgaard, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

About the thesis

A healthy diet is essential for healthy growth and development during childhood and may prevent obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases throughout life. Traditionally, diet has been investigated as single nutrients. However, people do not eat one single nutrient and they do not even eat one single food. People consume meals and these meals vary during a day, over a year and during a life time. To comprehend some of this complexity it could be advantageous to investigate dietary patterns representing the whole diet as patterns might be better markers of growth and health than single nutrients. However, little is known about the development of dietary patterns in childhood both in relation to possible indicators and to obesity related outcomes.

Therefore, the aim of this PhD thesis was to make exploratory analyses of dietary patterns in childhood using the method principal component analysis (PCA) and to investigate associations to possible indicators and outcomes related to growth and obesity. This was based on two observational cohort studies (SKOT I, SKOT II) and one intervention study (MoMS).

The research showed that PCA is a suitable method for understanding some of the complexity in child nutrition both in observational and intervention designs as well as for investigating development of dietary patterns over time. Explorative analyses of indicators for dietary patterns showed that parental, household and child characteristics are associated with dietary patterns in early childhood. These associations might contribute to the identification of families, who would benefit from guidance to help them establish healthy dietary patterns for their infants.

Finding tracking for some infants and changes in adherence to dietary patterns for others as well as the association between dietary patterns and obesity related outcomes in toddlerhood further indicate that early and sustained health promotion is highly relevant. In relation to the specific content of dietary health promotions the present findings in overweight adolescents support the recommendation that plain water should be promoted as the main source of fluid for children instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. 

2014, 158 pages, ISBN 978 87 7611 794 8