This study was performed to examine how childhood dietary patterns change over the short term and which changes in diet-related behaviors influence later changes in individual dietary patterns. Using food frequency questionnaire data obtained from children at 7 and 9 years of age from the Ewha Birth and Growth Cohort, we examined dietary patterns by principal component analysis. We calculated the individual changes in dietary pattern scores. Changes in dietary habits such as eating a variety of food over two years were defined as “increased”, “stable”, or “decreased”. The dietary patterns, termed “healthy intake”, “animal food intake”, and “snack intake”, were similar at 7 and 9 years of age. These patterns explained 32.3% and 39.1% of total variation at the ages of 7 and 9 years, respectively. The tracking coefficient of snack intake had the highest coefficient (γ = 0.53) and that of animal food intake had the lowest (γ = 0.21). Intra-individual stability in dietary habits ranged from 0.23 to 0.47, based on the sex-adjusted weighted kappa values. Of the various behavioral factors, eating breakfast every day was most common in the “stable” group (83.1%), whereas consuming milk or dairy products every day was the least common (49.0%). Moreover, changes in behavior that improved the consumption of milk or dairy products or encouraged the consumption of vegetables with every meal had favorable effects on changes in healthy dietary pattern scores over two years. However, those with worsened habits, such as less food variety and more than two portions of fried or stir-fried food every week, had unfavorable effects on changes in healthy dietary pattern scores. Our results suggest that diet-related behaviors can change, even over a short period, and these changes can affect changes in dietary pattern.
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