Introduction Familial influence on dietary behaviours of children is expressed through genetic predispositions, maternal-environment and home-environment. Disaggregating such effects requires relatively rare cross-generational study designs. This analysis examined associations of maternal, paternal and grandparental dietary intake prenatally; and maternal and maternal-grandmothers dietary intake post-natally with child's dietary intake.
Methods Pre-natal dietary information was available for expectant mothers (N=1119), fathers (N=331), maternal-grandmothers (N=285), maternal-grandfathers (N=163), paternal-grandmothers (N=163), and paternal-grandfathers (N=96) through a validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). At 6 year follow-up, when children averaged age 5, dietary information was re-collected for mothers (n=558) and some maternal-grandmothers (N=53) using the same FFQ. A child's FFQ version was used for children (N=567). Association for energy, macronutrients and fibre intake were compared using Pearson's interclass and intraclass correlations. Nutrients were log transformed and adjusted for energy intake in interclass correlations.
Results Though the correlations were weakly moderate (r <0.35) in strength, a clear pattern emerged. Positive statistically significant correlations were found for energy, macronutrients and fibre intake within children's nuclear families. Correlations were stronger for maternal postnatal-child pairs compared to maternal prenatal-child pairs. The father-child associations were significant (except for fat) but weaker than mother-child associations. Maternal grandmother-mother associations were found for protein, fat and fibre intakes. A significant positive intraclass correlations was observed in nutrient intakes of maternal grandmothers-mothers-child triads, not found in paternal lines.
Conclusion The stronger maternal associations with children's nutrient intake and existence of maternal grandmother-mother-child associations support evidence for maternal-environment programming influences.
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