Preschool children’s meal patterns analysed using the Food-Based Classification of Eating Episodes model
AbstractBackground: Because of changing food habits that may influence nutritional status it is important, especially in children, reproducibly to describe and analyse the timing and frequency of eating and the composition of different types of eating episodes. Objective: To describe eating patterns of 3-5-year-old Swedish preschool children by analysing 7 day food records using the Food-Based Classification of Eating Episodes (FBCE) model. Design: Food intakes were categorized into four types of ‘‘meals’’ and four types of ‘‘snacks’’, according to their food profile. Complete 7 day weighed and estimated food records for 109 children were processed and analysed. Results: On weekdays the children ate significantly more frequently than on weekend days, having 5.6 and 5.2 eating episodes per day, respectively. More eating episodes were classified as ‘‘meals’’ on weekdays than on weekend days: 72% and 60%, respectively. On average for the whole week, 4 3% of the daily energy intake was derived from ‘‘complete meals’’ (CM) and 34% from ‘‘incomplete meals’’ (IM). CM contributed significantly more energy and more nutrients, except for calcium, than did IM. In low-quality snacks (LS), sucrose contributed with about one-third of the energy content and the nutrient density was low. Conclusions: The qualitative FBCE model verified nutritional characteristics of the children’s diet previously found in the same cohort by the traditional dietary assessment methods. Processing of the dietary data by the model to show the prevalence and temporal distribution of eating episodes appears to be an applicable tool for nutritional screening of children’s eating patterns. Keywords: eating episodes; frequency; meals and snacks; preschool children; timing
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