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© Borgis - New Medicine 1/2009, s. 7-12
*Wojciech Chalcarz, Sylwia Merkiel, Zdzisława Hodyr
FOOD BEHAVIOUR IN PRESCHOOL CHILDREN FROM PABIANICE
Food and Nutrition Department of the Eugeniusz Piasecki
University School of Physical Education in Poznan
Head of the Department: Dr hab. Wojciech Chalcarz, prof. nadzw. AWF
Summary
Aim.The aim of this study was to assess food behaviour in preschool children who attended preschools in Pabianice.
Material and methods. The study was carried out in 191 children aged 5 and 6 years, including 79 girls and 112 boys, who attended preschools in Pabianice. The assessment of food behaviour included: number of meals eaten at home, regularity of having these meals, frequency of eating selected foodstuffs, preparing meals at home for the children, children´s taste preferences, as well as parents´ opinion about the adequacy of their children´s food intake at home and about their own knowledge on nutrition in children. Statistical analysis was carried out by means of the SPSS 12.0 PL for Windows computer program. The studied population was divided according to gender.
Results. Gender had a statistically significant impact on eating between the main meals, frequency of eating wholemeal bread, fruit, and milk and dairy products, bitter taste preferences, salty taste preferences, and taking into account parents´ food preferences when preparing meals for their children.
Conclusions. The most common nutritional mistakes in the studied population of preschool children was eating until the feeling of satiety, eating vegetables and fruit too seldom, as well as eating meat and its equivalents, and sweets too frequently. To avoid these mistakes, parents should be educated on nutrition in preschool children.
INTRODUCTION
Adequate nutrition in preschool age is of vital importance due to rapid psychomotor development of the child and establishment of food habits [1, 2]. Proper nutrition along with physical activity during childhood is essential for life-long health and prevents diet-related diseases, especially overweight and obesity [3], cardiovascular diseases [4, 5], type 2 diabetes [6] and hypertension [7].
Monitoring preschool children´s food intake and food behaviour is even more important if we take into account the scarce Polish research in this field recently, aimed at assessment of either dietary intake in preschool [8, 9, 10] or food behaviour in general [11, 12, 13]. There are no studies focused on food behaviour in preschool children during their stay at home.
AIM
The aim of this study was to assess food behaviour in preschool children who attended preschools in Pabianice.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Questionnaires on children´s food behaviour were filled in by parents of 191 children aged 5 and 6 years, including 79 girls and 112 boys, who attended preschools in Pabianice. General information about the children and their families and about health status of the children and their families, as well as parents´ opinions about their children´s body weight and health status, was presented in our previous article [14]. The assessment of food behaviour included: number of meals eaten at home, regularity of having these meals, frequency of eating selected foodstuffs, preparing meals at home for the children, children´s taste preferences, and parents´ opinion about the adequacy of their children´s food intake at home and about their own knowledge on nutrition in children.
The research was approved by the Bioethics Committee of the Poznan University of Medical Sciences.
Statistical analysis was carried out by means of the SPSS 12.0 PL for Windows computer program. The studied population was divided according to gender.
RESULTS
Table 1 shows parents´ answers to the questions about their children concerning number of meals eaten, the longest interval between meals, eating until the feeling of satiety, eating between the main meals and regularity of having meals at home, according to gender. Gender had a statistically significant impact on eating between the main meals. More boys than girls, 91.1% vs 79.7%, ate between the main meals.
Table 1. Number of meals, the longest interval between meals, eating until the feeling of satiety, eating between the main meals and regularity of eating meals [%].
No.QuestionAnswersGirls
(n=79)
Boys
(n=112)
1.Number of meals≤ 3 meals10.34.6
4 meals39.737.8
5 meals41.045.9
6 meals9.011.7
2.The longest interval between meals≤ 4 hours88.594.6
>4 hours11.55.4
3.Eating until the feeling of satiety89.786.6
4.Eating between the main meals79.791.1
5.Having breakfast regularly94.997.3
6.Having lunch regularly59.562.5
7.Having dinner regularly97.596.4
8.Having tea regularly81.086.6
9.Having supper regularly98.798.2
Bold type denotes statistically significant results (p=0.05).
Table 2 presents parents´ answers to the questions about their children concerning frequency of eating selected foodstuffs, according to gender. Gender had a statistically significant impact on frequency of eating wholemeal bread, fruit, and milk and dairy products. All these foodstuffs were consumed more frequently by girls.
Table 2. Frequency of eating selected foodstuffs [%].
No.FoodstuffFrequencyGirls
(n=79)
Boys
(n=112)
1.Wholemeal breadNever51.367.6
Once a day30.324.0
Twice a day13.26.5
Three times a day3.91.9
Four times a day1.30.0
2.VegetablesNever8.19.3
Once a day63.558.9
Twice a day25.728.1
Three times a day2.72.8
Five times a day0.00.9
3.FruitNever0.00.9
Once a day19.726.7
Twice a day43.550.0
Three times a day31.617.0
Four times a day2.64.5
Five times a day2.60.9
4.Milk and dairy productsNever1.32.8
Once a day19.733.0
Twice a day51.343.1
Three times a day26.419.3
Four times a day1.30.9
Five times a day0.00.9
5.Meat and meat productsNever3.91.8
Once a day40.330.3
Twice a day40.351.4
Three times a day15.516.5
6.PoultryNever18.119.8
Once a day68.169.3
Twice a day12.49.9
Three times a day1.41.0
7.FishNever37.545.5
Once a day55.651.5
Twice a day6.93.0
8.EggsNever21.332.0
Once a day74.762.2
Twice a day4.05.8
9.SweetsNever1.36.6
Once a day44.742.5
Twice a day32.931.1
Three times a day17.213.2
Four times a day3.95.7
Six or more times a day0.00.9
Bold type denotes statistically significant results (p=0.05).
Table 3 shows parents´ answers to the questions concerning preparing meals at home for their children, according to gender. Gender had a statistically significant impact on whether parents took into account their own food preferences when preparing meals for their children. More parents of girls compared to boys, 15.2% vs 4.5%, took their own food preferences into account.
Table 3. Preparing meals at home for the children [%].
No.QuestionGirls
(n=79)
Boys
(n=112)
1.I am interested in what my child eats in the preschool94.992.0
2.I prepare meals avoiding dishes already eaten by my child in the preschool53.858.9
3.I prepare meals taking into account my child´s food preferences80.885.7
4.I prepare meals taking into account my own food preferences15.24.5
5.My child follows a special diet because of her/his health status1.37.1
6.My child takes vitamin and mineral supplements54.450.9
Bold type denotes statistically significant results (p=0.05).
Table 4 presents parents´ answers to the questions concerning using fat to prepare meals at home for their children, according to gender. Gender had no statistically significant impact on the answers.
Table 4. Using fat to prepare meals at home for the children [%].
No.QuestionGirls
(n=79)
Boys
(n=112)
1.Spreading any fat on child´s bread100.097.3
2.Spreading butter on child´s bread71.868.8
3.Spreading margarine on child´s bread48.742.0
4.Spreading plant oil on child´s bread0.01.8
5.Using butter for frying1.34.5
6.Using margarine for frying34.634.8
7.Using plant oil for frying82.184.8
8.Using lard for frying3.88.0
9.Using pork fat for frying1.30.9
Table 5 shows parents´ answers to the questions concerning their children´s taste preferences, according to gender. Gender had a statistically significant impact on bitter taste preferences and salty taste preferences. A higher percentage of girls compared to boys preferred bitter taste, 5.1% vs 0.0%, and a higher percentage of boys preferred salty taste, 34.8% vs 15.2%.
Table 5. Taste preferred by the children [%].
No.TasteGirls
(n=79)
Boys
(n=112)
1.Sweet92.484.8
2.Sour62.857.1
3.Bitter5.10.0
4.Salty15.234.8
Bold type denotes statistically significant results (p=0.05).
Table 6 presents parents´ answers to the questions concerning their opinion about their children´s food intake at home and about their own knowledge on nutrition in children, according to gender. Gender had no statistically significant impact on the answers.
Table 6. Parents´ opinion about their children´s food intake and about their own nutritional knowledge [%].
No.QuestionGirls
(n=79)
Boys
(n=112)
1.My child´s food intake at home is adequate64.166.1
2.My knowledge on nutrition in children is sufficient37.233.0
3.I broaden my knowledge on nutrition in children64.162.5
DISCUSSION
Similarly to previous studies on preschool children from various regions of Poland [11, 15], most of the studied preschool children from Pabianice had more than three meals a day; the longest interval between their meals was not longer than four hours; they regularly had breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea and supper; and they ate until the feeling of satiety. Both having more than three meals a day and keeping intervals between meals not longer than four hours is highly favourable but eating until the feeling of satiety is adverse [16, 17, 18]. Due to the fact that boys had more meals than girls and a higher percentage of them ate between the main meals, research should be carried out into the reasons for this tendency because of the possibility that mothers teach their daughters to eat fewer meals in order to keep them slim, which may be very harmful to their health.
Eating between the main meals, as observed in almost 90% of the studied preschool children from Pabianice, is favourable, since studies [17, 18] have shown positive effects of additional energy intake between the main meals. It is obviously indispensable to keep total energy intake during the day within the energy requirements.
According to current nutritional guidelines [16], a healthy person should eat five servings of cereal and cereal products, four servings of vegetables, three servings of fruit, two servings of milk and dairy products, and one serving of meat and its equivalents every day. Sweets should be eaten from time to time. Meanwhile, in the studied population of preschool children frequency of eating vegetables and fruit was too low and frequency of eating meat and its equivalents was too high. Most of the children met the recommendations of eating two servings of milk and dairy products a day. Similar tendencies were observed in the population of preschool children from various regions of Poland [11, 13]. Too frequent consumption of sweets may be the result of high preferences for sweets in as many as 96.7% of children and of receiving this kind of food from parents as a prize [12], whereas low frequency of eating vegetables and fruit may result from a low percentage of children who preferred these foods, only 23%, and from the fact that these foods were seldom offered to children in their everyday meals [12].
It is highly favourable that more than 90% of parents were interested in what their children ate in the preschool. A very positive observation was that 57% of the preschoolers´ parents prepared meals avoiding dishes already eaten by their children in the preschool and that almost 84% of them prepared meals taking into account their children´s food preferences, which is similar to the behaviour of parents of preschool children from various regions of Poland [15, 19]. However, the taking of vitamin and mineral supplements by the studied children, as reported by more than 50% of parents, is rather disconcerting, and so research should be carried out to investigate the actual intake of such supplements and to find out the reasons for such behaviour. This may have an adverse influence on the studied preschoolers´ health since these substances are biologically active and are more and more often being added to foods for preschool children.
The spreading of fat on the studied children´s bread by almost all of the parents, especially butter in as many as 70% of the studied population, is the result of traditional recommendations for preschool children which emphasised the importance of butter and the necessity to increase intake of energy from fat to more than 30% [20]. Similar results were obtained in the population of preschool children from various regions of Poland [11, 19]. Such food behaviour poses a considerable risk for increased serum lipids, particularly cholesterol, along with a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases [3, 4]. However, it was very favourable that most of the parents used plant oil for frying.
Taste preferences in the studied preschool children from Pabianice were similar to those observed in their peers from various regions of Poland [15], with the highest percentage of children who preferred sweet and sour tastes.
In comparison to parents of preschoolers from various regions of Poland [19], a lower percentage of the studied preschool children´s parents considered their children´s food intake at home adequate, and a lower percentage of them were convinced that their knowledge on nutrition in children was sufficient. It was also highly unfavourable that a lower percentage of the studied children´s parents broadened their knowledge on nutrition in children.
CONCLUSIONS
1. The most common nutritional mistakes in the studied population of preschool children was eating until the feeling of satiety, eating vegetables and fruit too seldom, as well as eating meat and its equivalents, and sweets too frequently.
2. It was highly favourable that more than 90% of parents were interested in what their children ate in the preschool and that most of them prepared meals at home avoiding dishes already eaten by the child in the preschool and including foods preferred by their child.
3. Parents should be educated on nutrition in preschool children.
Piśmiennictwo
1. Merkiel S, Chalcarz W: Nutrition in preschool age: Part 1. Importance, reference values, methods of research and their application. Review. New Medicine 2007; 11: 68-73. 2. Uauy R et al.: Nutrition, child growth, and chronic disease prevention. Ann Med 2008; 40: 11-20. 3. Wofford LG: Systematic Review of Childhood Obesity Prevention. J Pediatric Nurs 2008; 23: 5-19. 4. Szostak-Węgierek D: Profilaktyka miażdżycy u dzieci i młodych osób dorosłych. Ped Pol 2007; 82: 550-558. 5. Daniels SR, Greer FR and the Committee on Nutrition: Lipid Screening and Cardiovascular Health in Childhood. Pediatrics 2008; 2: 198-208. 6. Giannini C, Mohn A, Chiarelli F: Physical exercise and diabetes during childhood. Acta Biomed 2006; 77(Suppl 1): 18-25. 7. Marcovecchio ML et al.: Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in obese children: role of insulin resistance. J Hypertens 2006; 24: 2431-6. 8. Merkiel S, Chalcarz W, Wegner M: Ocena jadłospisów przedszkolnych. Część I. Energia i makroskładniki. Med Środ 2009, w druku. 9. Chalcarz W, Merkiel S, Wegner M: Ocena jadłospisów przedszkolnych. Część II. Witaminy i składniki mineralne. Med Środ 2009, w druku. 10. Czech A, Kęska A: Zawartość składników pokarmowych w zimowych i letnich posiłkach przedszkolnych. Żyw Człow 2007; 34: 572-577. 11. Weker H et al.: Żywienie dzieci w wieku przedszkolnym. Ogólna charakterystyka sposobu żywienia. Rocz Państ Zakł Hig 2000; 51: 385-392. 12. Kozłowska-Wojciechowska M, Makarewicz-Wujec M: Badanie preferencji żywieniowych dzieci w wieku przedszkolnym. Rocz Państ Zakł Hig 2005; 56: 165-169. 13. Mastalerz-Migas A et al.: Czy nasze dzieci żyją zdrowo? Fam Med Prim Care Rev 2007; 9: 525-527. 14. Chalcarz W, Merkiel S, Hodyr Z: Nutritional status of preschool children from Pabianice. New Med. (Wars.) 2008; 12(2), 29-35. 15. Chalcarz W, Radzimirska-Graczyk M, Dulat D: Wybrane zwyczaje żywieniowe dzieci w wieku przedszkolnym z różnych regionów Polski. Żyw Człow Metab 2005; Supl. 1 (2): 786-789. 16. Chalcarz W: Praktyczne wykorzystanie współczesnych zaleceń żywieniowych w kulturze fizycznej. [W:] Teoria i metodyka rekreacji ruchowej. (Zagadnienia podstawowe). (Ed.: Kiełbasiewicz-Drozdowska I, Siwiński W), Wydawnictwo AWF, Poznań, 2001). 17. Charzewska J et al.: Aspekty zdrowotne częstości spożywania posiłków - nowe spojrzenie na tradycyjne zwyczaje. Żyw Człow Metab 2003; 30: 68-75. 18. Wądołowska L et al.: Comparison of nutritional value insnacking and not snacking young people´s food. Pol J Food Nutr Sci 2001; 10/51: 67-74. 19. Chalcarz W, Radzimirska-Graczyk M, Dulat D: Sposób żywienia i aktywność ruchowa dzieci w wieku przedszkolnym z różnych regionów Polski. Materiały X Jubileuszowej Międzynarodowej Konferencji Naukowej: Uwarunkowania środowiskowe zdrowia dzieci. Legnica 1-2 czerwca 2001 roku, 53-59. 20. Ziemlański Ś (red.): Normy żywienia człowieka. Fizjologiczne podstawy. PZWL, Warszawa 2001.
Adres do korespondencji:
*Wojciech Chalcarz
Department of Food and Nutrition, University School of Physical Education
Droga Dębinska Str. 7
tel/fax: +4861 8355287
e-mail: chalcarz@awf.poznan.pl

New Medicine 1/2009
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