Restriction lift date: 2024-09-30
Dietary quality of school-aged children and teenagers in Ireland by demographic characteristics and eating location
University College Cork
Background: Childhood and the teenage years are distinctive life stages characterised by unique dietary needs. Data from nationally representative dietary surveys of children and teenagers across Europe have shown that intakes of key nutrients are not in line with recommendations. Furthermore, demographic characteristics such as sex, age, socio-economic status and weight status may have an influence on dietary quality in children and teenagers. It has also been shown that eating location can influence dietary quality, with some locations such as ‘home’ and ‘school’ being associated with better dietary quality than other locations, such as ‘restaurants’, ‘takeaways’ and ‘shops’. Objectives: The overall aim of this thesis was to examine the dietary quality of school-aged children and teenagers in Ireland by demographic characteristics and eating location using data from the National Children’s Food Survey II (NCFS II) (2017-18) and the National Teens’ Food Survey II (NTFS II) (2019-20). Methods: The analyses for this thesis were based on data from the NCFS II and the NTFS II which are two nationally representative dietary surveys of children (5-12 years, n 600) and teenagers (13-18 years, n 428) living in the Republic of Ireland. Dietary intake data were collected at brand level using a 4-day weighed food diary for both surveys. Dietary quality was determined using energy-adjusted (%E or /10MJ) intakes of nutrients and food groups. ‘Eating location’ was defined as the location where food was prepared or obtained, irrespective of where it was consumed. For eating location analysis, consumers were defined as those who consumed food at a given location at least once during the four-day recording period. Results: The overall dietary quality of children and teenagers in Ireland was found to be unfavourable and there were very few differences observed across sex, age groups, categories of socio-economic status and weight status. Intakes of key food groups were not in line with food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) for either children or teenagers. In both children and teenagers, dietary intakes were driven by the ‘home’ location. While the majority of children (73%) and teenagers (78%) consumed food from ‘outside of the home’, most eating occasions took place at ‘home’ for both children (89%) and teenagers (85%), accounting for a large proportion of the energy consumed (88% in children and 81% in teenagers). The contribution of food consumed from ‘outside of the home’ was higher in teenagers than in children (19% vs. 12%). Younger children had higher intakes of energy from food consumed from ‘other homes’ than older children and both children and teenagers of parents with primary/intermediate education only had higher intakes of energy from food consumed from ‘fast food/takeaways’ than children and teenagers of parents with tertiary education. There were no other differences observed in these eating patterns across any other demographic characteristics examined. Food consumed from ‘home’ and the ‘participant’s own home’ was better in terms of dietary quality than food consumed from ‘outside of the home’ and ‘other homes’. Of all ‘out of home’ locations, ‘school’ provided the best dietary quality for children, but this was not seen in teenagers. Conclusion: This thesis has shown that the overall dietary quality of children and teenagers in Ireland was unfavourable and there were few differences found across demographic characteristics. Dietary intake was driven by the home environment, with ‘home’ and the ‘participant’s own home’ being associated with better dietary quality than ‘other homes’ and ‘outside of the home’. The findings of this thesis can be of use to policy makers when introducing healthy eating policies aimed at school-aged children and teenagers such as taxation on unhealthy foods and regulation around marketing of unhealthy foods.
NTFS II , NCFS II , Dietary survey , Dietary quality , Eating location , Demographics , Children , Teenagers , Ireland
Rusu, I. 2022. Dietary quality of school-aged children and teenagers in Ireland by demographic characteristics and eating locatione. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.