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Purpose: To examine associations between preschoolers’ diet quality and parent and child socio-demographic variables.
Methods: Cross-sectional analysis with 117 preschoolers. Parents reported socio-demographics and their children’s diet using 3-day food records. Diet quality was assessed using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2015. Linear regression models were used to analyze associations between socio-demographics and HEI scores.
Results: A total of 86% of children had an HEI-2015 score in the “needs improvement” category (51–80 out of a maximum of 100). Children’s overall HEI-2015 score was inversely associated with children’s age (β = −0.19, 95% CI −0.37, −0.02). Parental education was positively associated with children’s overall HEI score (β = 9.58, 95% CI 3.81, 15.35) and with scores for total fruit (β = 1.00, 95% CI 0.39, 1.76), vegetables (β = 1.11, 95% CI 0.03, 2.18), total protein (β = 1.06, 95% CI 0.28, 1.84), and seafood/plant protein (β = 1.67, 95% CI 0.43, 2.89) components. Children who identified as Caucasian (β = 4.29, 95% CI 2.46, 6.14), had a Caucasian parent (β = 3.01, 95% CI 0.78, 5.25), or parents who were born in Canada (β = 2.32, 95% CI 0.53, 4.11) had higher scores for dairy.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that preschoolers’ diet quality needs improvement and that children’s diet quality varies by children’s age and parental education level.


Objectif. Examiner les associations entre la qualité de l’alimentation des enfants d’âge préscolaire et les variables sociodémographiques des parents et des enfants.
Méthodes. Analyse transversale auprès de 117 enfants d’âge préscolaire. Les parents ont fourni des données sociodémographiques et sur l’alimentation de leurs enfants au moyen de journaux alimentaires tenus sur 3 jours. La qualité de l’alimentation a été évaluée à partir de l’indice de saine alimentation (ISA) 2015. Des modèles de régression linéaire ont été employés pour analyser les associations entre les données sociodémographiques et les scores d’ISA.
Résultats. Au total, 86 % des enfants ont obtenu un score d’ISA-2015 dans la catégorie « besoin d’amélioration » (51 à 80 sur un maximum de 100). Le score global d’ISA-2015 des enfants était inversement associé à leur âge (β = -0,19; IC à 95 % : -0,37–-0,02). L’éducation des parents était positivement associée au score global d’ISA de l’enfant (β = 9,58; IC à 95 % : 3,81–15,35) et aux scores pour les composantes fruits totaux (β = 1,00; IC à 95 % : 0,39–1,76), légumes (β = 1,11; IC à 95 % : 0,03–2,18), protéines totales (β = 1,06; IC à 95 % : 0,28–1,84) et fruits de mer/protéines végétales (β = 1,67; IC à 95 % : 0,43–2,89). Les enfants désignés comme étant de race blanche (β = 4,29; IC à 95 % : 2,46–6,14), dont un parent est de race blanche (β = 3,01; IC à 95 % : 0,78–5,25) ou dont les parents sont nés au Canada (β = 2,32; IC à 95 % : 0,53–4,11) ont obtenu des scores plus élevés pour les produits laitiers.
Conclusions. Nos résultats suggèrent que la qualité de l’alimentation des enfants d’âge préscolaire doit être améliorée et que la qualité de l’alimentation des enfants varie selon leur âge et le niveau d’éducation des parents.

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Financial support: ACL receives a post-doctoral scholarship from the São Paulo State Foundation (process n° 2015/20852-7). The Guelph Family Health Study Pilot was funded by the Health for Life Initiative—University of Guelph.
Conflict of interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Information & Authors


Published In

cover image Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Volume 82Number 3September 2021
Pages: 131 - 135
Editor: Naomi Cahill Ph.D RD


Version of record online: 20 April 2021



Ana Carolina Leme PhD, RD
University of Guelph, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, Guelph, ON
University of São Paulo, Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Brazil, São Paulo, Brazil
Center for Excellence in Nutrition and Feeding Difficulties, Children’s Hospital Sabará, PENSI Institute, Brazil
Dabrowka Muszynski MSc, RD
University of Guelph, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Guelph, ON
Julia A. Mirotta BASc, MSc
University of Guelph, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Guelph, ON
Nicholas Caroll BASc
University of Guelph, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, Guelph, ON
Jaimie L. Hogan BASc, MSc
University of Guelph, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Guelph, ON
Kira Jewell MSc
University of Guelph, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Guelph, ON
Jessica Yu BASc
University of Guelph, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Guelph, ON
Regina Mara Fisberg PhD, RD
University of São Paulo, Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Brazil, São Paulo, Brazil
Alison M. Duncan PhD, RD
University of Guelph, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Guelph, ON
David W.L. MA PhD
University of Guelph, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Guelph, ON
Jess Haines PhD, RD
University of Guelph, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, Guelph, ON
On behalf of the Guelph Family Health Study

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