The aim of this study was to examine food patterns of Australian children ages 9 to 13 y in relation to ω-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (ω-3 LCPUFA) intake.
Secondary analysis was conducted on nationally representative food data of 1110 Australian children ages 9 to 13 y (525 boys and 585 girls) that was obtained using two 24-h recalls. Principle component factor analysis was used to identify food patterns. Discriminant function analysis was used to identify the relationship between the food patterns and total ω-3 LCPUFA intake.
Four major food patterns emerged for each sex. For boys these were labeled: “snack foods,” “soft drinks,” “vegetables,” and “pork and meat chops, steak, and mince.” For girls they were labeled: “vegetables,” “take-away,” “tea, coffee, iced coffee drinks” and “canned meals and soup.” Fish consumption bought from take-away outlets was more frequently consumed in the “soft drink” (r = 0.577) and take-away (r = 0.485) food pattern in boys and girls, respectively. In contrast, fish prepared at home was more often consumed in “vegetables” in both boys (r = 0.018) and girls (r = 0.106), as well as in the “pork and meat chops, steak and mince” food pattern in boys (r = 0.060). There was a trend that in boys, the “vegetables” group discriminated children who consumed ω-3 LCPUFA levels similar to adequate intakes (AI) (P = 0.067), whereas in girls, the take-away food pattern discriminated for being a fish consumer (P = 0.060).
Dietary patterns associated with a high consumption of vegetables and “take-aways” food that include meat and fish are likely to positively influence dietary ω-3 LCPUFA intake in Australian children.