Lamis Jomaa and Farah Naja contributed equally to this manuscript.
The high burden of preschool overweight in the Middle East and North Africa highlights the need for rigorous investigations of its determinants. This study aims at identifying dietary patterns amongst preschoolers in Lebanon and assessing their association with overweight and obesity.
A national cross-sectional survey was conducted amongst 2–5-year-old children (n = 525). Socio-demographic, dietary, lifestyle and anthropometric variables were collected. Dietary patterns were derived by factor analysis. Overweight/obesity was defined based on the World Health Organization 2006 criteria (BMI-for-age z-score > + 2).
Two patterns, “Fast Food and Sweets” and “Traditional Lebanese”, were identified. The “Fast Food and Sweets” pattern was characterized by higher consumption of sweetened beverages, fast foods, salty snacks and sweets. The “Traditional Lebanese” was driven by higher intakes of cereals, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Children belonging to the 3rd tertile of the Traditional pattern scores had significantly lower odds of overweight/obesity compared to the 1st tertile (OR 0.33; 95% CI 0.11, 0.97). Higher maternal education and higher frequency of eating with family predicted adherence to the traditional pattern, while the presence of a household helper was a negative determinant. Adherence to the Fast Food and Sweets pattern was positively associated with the child’s age, and negatively associated with female gender and maternal education.
The “Traditional Lebanese” pattern was associated with decreased risk of preschool overweight. Policies aiming at re-anchoring this traditional dietary pattern in contemporary lifestyles may be developed as potential preventive strategies against overweight in this age group.
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- A traditional dietary pattern is associated with lower odds of overweight and obesity among preschool children in Lebanon: a cross-sectional study
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