To analyse prevailing food patterns among Spanish children and young people and their relationship to sociodemographic and lifestyle factors.
Cross-sectional population survey.
Population study. Data were collected at participants' home addresses.
Random sample of the Spanish population aged 2-24 y (n=3534; 1629 boys and 1905 girls).
Food consumption was assessed by means of a 24-h recall and a food frequency questionnaire. Sociodemographic and lifestyle related data were collected by specially designed questionnaires, previously pretested and validated. All the information was collected during a personal interview by trained dietitians. Data collection: May 1998-April 2000.
Average consumption of fruit and vegetables was low. The youngest age group (2-5 y) showed the lowest proportions of inadequacy for the dairy group (P<0,001; chi(2)=39.11 boys; chi(2)=49.60 girls). Factor analysis identified five main components of dietary patterns. The 'Snacky' pattern was characterised by more frequent and higher consumption of bakery products (buns, cakes and biscuits), sweets, salted snacks and soft drinks. Higher intakes of fruit, vegetables and fish were associated to the 'Healthy' pattern. Children whose mother had a low level of education and those who spent more than 2 h daily watching TV were more likely to follow the 'Snacky' pattern. Girls were more likely to follow the 'Healthy' pattern, while children and young people whose mother had a lower level of education were less likely.
Results from this study highlight the importance of enhancing school-based and community-based actions to promote healthy eating and physical activity addressed to children and young people.