We examined whether the role of maternal education in children's unhealthy snacking diet is moderated by other socio-economic indicators.
Participants were selected from the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development cohort, a large ongoing community-based birth cohort. Validated Food Frequency Questionnaires (FFQ) (n = 2782) were filled in by mothers of children aged 5.7±0.5yrs. Based on these FFQs, a snacking dietary pattern was derived using Principal Component Analysis. Socio-economic indicators were: maternal and paternal education (low, middle, high; based on the highest education completed) household finance (low, high; based on ability to save money) and neighbourhood SES (composite score including educational level, household income and employment status of residents per postal code). Cross-sectional multivariable linear regression analysis was used to assess the association and possible moderation of maternal education and other socio-economic indicators on the snacking pattern score. Analyses were adjusted for children's age, sex and ethnicity.
Low maternal education (B 0.95, 95% CI 0.83;1.06), low paternal education (B 0.36, 95% CI 0.20;0.52), lower household finance (B 0.18, 95% CI 0.11;0.26) and neighbourhood SES (B -0.09, 95% CI -0.11;-0.06) were independently associated with higher snacking pattern scores (p<0.001). The association between maternal education and the snacking pattern score was somewhat moderated by household finance (p = 0.089) but remained strong. Children from middle-high educated mothers (B 0.44, 95% CI 0.35;0.52) had higher snacking pattern scores when household finance was low (B 0.49, 95% CI 0.33;0.65).
All socio-economic indicators were associated with increased risk of unhealthy dietary patterns in young children, with low maternal education conferring the highest risk. Yet, within the group of middle-high educated mothers, lower household finance was an extra risk factor for unhealthy dietary patterns. Intervention strategies should therefore focus on lower educated mothers and middle-high educated mothers with insufficient levels of household finance.