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OBJECTIVE: Understanding dietary tracking may help to inform interventions to improve dietary intakes and health outcomes. This study investigated how a dietary pattern (DP) associated with increased adiposity in childhood tracked from 7 to 13 years of age, in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). DESIGN AND METHODS: Three-day food diaries were collected at 7, 10 and 13 years. Reduced rank regression was used to score respondents for an energy-dense, high fat, low fiber DP at each age. Tracking coefficients were estimated for the DP and its key foods using data from 7,027 children. RESULTS: The DP tracking coefficient was 0.48 (95% CI: 0.44-0.52) for boys and 0.38 (95% CI: 0.35-0.41) for girls. Of 10 key food groups, fruit, vegetables, high fiber bread, high fiber breakfast cereals and full fat milk intakes exhibited the strongest tracking, particularly among low consumers. Lower maternal education and greater prepregnancy maternal BMI predicted higher DP z scores and lower fruit and vegetable intakes. CONCLUSIONS: A dietary pattern associated with increased adiposity tracks moderately from 7 to 13 years of age in this large UK cohort. Specific groups of families may require additional support to foster lifelong healthy dietary habits in their children.

Original publication




Journal article


Obesity (Silver Spring)

Publication Date





458 - 465


Adiposity, Adolescent, Adolescent Behavior, Adolescent Development, Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena, Child, Child Behavior, Child Development, Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena, Cohort Studies, England, Feeding Behavior, Female, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Overweight, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors, Sex Characteristics