Energy-dense, low-fiber, high-fat dietary pattern is associated with increased fatness in childhood

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):846-54. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/87.4.846.


Background: Evidence for the dietary determinants of obesity in children is limited.

Objective: The objective was to identify a dietary pattern that explained dietary energy density (DED), fiber density (FD), and percentage of energy intake from fat and analyze its relation to fatness in children.

Design: The subjects were 521 (at ages 5 and 9 y) and 682 (at ages 7 and 9 y) children participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Diet was assessed with the use of 3-d diet diaries at ages 5 and 7 y. Reduced rank regression derived a dietary pattern with the use of DED, fiber, and fat intake as intermediate variables. Fat mass was measured at age 9 y with the use of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Fat mass index (FMI) was calculated, and excess adiposity was defined (as the top quintile of logFMI).

Results: Pattern score at ages 5 and 7 y was correlated with DED (r = 0.8), FD (r = -0.7), and percentage of energy intake from fat (r = 0.5). An increase of 1 SD of pattern score at ages 5 and 7 y, respectively, was associated with a 0.15-kg (95% CI: -0.1, 0.45 kg) and a 0.28-kg (95% CI: 0.05, 0.53 kg) higher fat mass at age 9 y, after controlling for confounders. The adjusted odds of excess adiposity at age 9 y for children in quintile 5 compared with quintile 1 of dietary pattern score at ages 5 and 7 y, respectively, were 2.52 (95% CI: 1.13, 6.08) and 4.18 (95% CI: 2.07, 9.38).

Conclusion: An energy-dense, low-fiber, high-fat diet is associated with higher fat mass and greater odds of excess adiposity in childhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging
  • Adipose Tissue / growth & development
  • Adiposity / drug effects*
  • Adiposity / physiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Composition / drug effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Risk Factors


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber