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Familial Resemblance in Dietary Intakes of Children, Adolescents, and Parents: Does Dietary Quality Play a Role?

Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Finnish Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Helsinki, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology—BIPS, 28359 Bremen, Germany
Population Research Unit, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YL, UK
Department of Public Health, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Department of Pediatrics, University of Pécs, 7622 Pécs, Hungary
Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences/School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TH, UK
Department of Preventive and Predictive Medicine, Nutritional Epidemiology Unit, Fondazione IRCSS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, 20133 Milan, Italy
Research and Education Institute of Child Health, 2015 Strovolos, Cyprus
Faculty 03: Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany
Copenhagen Business School, Department of Management, Society and Communication, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
Institute of Food Sciences, National Research Council, 83100 Avellino, Italy
Department of Chronic Diseases, National Institute for Health Development, 11619 Tallinn, Estonia
GENUD (Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development) Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Zaragoza, Instituto Agroalimentario de Aragón (IA2), Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Aragón (IIS Aragón) and Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBERObn), 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Section for Epidemiology and Social Medicine (EPSO), Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2017, 9(8), 892;
Received: 28 June 2017 / Revised: 10 August 2017 / Accepted: 13 August 2017 / Published: 17 August 2017
PDF [1032 KB, uploaded 17 August 2017]


Information on familial resemblance is important for the design of effective family-based interventions. We aimed to quantify familial correlations and estimate the proportion of variation attributable to genetic and shared environmental effects (i.e., familiality) for dietary intake variables and determine whether they vary by generation, sex, dietary quality, or by the age of the children. The study sample consisted of 1435 families (1007 mothers, 438 fathers, 1035 daughters, and 1080 sons) from the multi-center I.Family study. Dietary intake was assessed in parents and their 2–19 years old children using repeated 24-h dietary recalls, from which the usual energy and food intakes were estimated with the U.S. National Cancer Institute Method. Food items were categorized as healthy or unhealthy based on their sugar, fat, and fiber content. Interclass and intraclass correlations were calculated for relative pairs. Familiality was estimated using variance component methods. Parent–offspring (r = 0.11–0.33), sibling (r = 0.21–0.43), and spouse (r = 0.15–0.33) correlations were modest. Parent–offspring correlations were stronger for the intake of healthy (r = 0.33) than unhealthy (r = 0.10) foods. Familiality estimates were 61% (95% CI: 54–68%) for the intake of fruit and vegetables and the sum of healthy foods and only 30% (95% CI: 23–38%) for the sum of unhealthy foods. Familial factors explained a larger proportion of the variance in healthy food intake (71%; 95% CI: 62–81%) in younger children below the age of 11 than in older children equal or above the age of 11 (48%; 95% CI: 38–58%). Factors shared by family members such as genetics and/or the shared home environment play a stronger role in shaping children’s intake of healthy foods than unhealthy foods. This suggests that family-based interventions are likely to have greater effects when targeting healthy food choices and families with younger children, and that other sorts of intervention are needed to address the intake of unhealthy foods by children. View Full-Text
Keywords: familial aggregation; familial resemblance; familiality; shared environment; family study; dietary intake; diet quality; healthy diet; young children; adolescence familial aggregation; familial resemblance; familiality; shared environment; family study; dietary intake; diet quality; healthy diet; young children; adolescence

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Bogl, L.H.; Silventoinen, K.; Hebestreit, A.; Intemann, T.; Williams, G.; Michels, N.; Molnár, D.; Page, A.S.; Pala, V.; Papoutsou, S.; Pigeot, I.; Reisch, L.A.; Russo, P.; Veidebaum, T.; Moreno, L.A.; Lissner, L.; Kaprio, J. Familial Resemblance in Dietary Intakes of Children, Adolescents, and Parents: Does Dietary Quality Play a Role? Nutrients 2017, 9, 892.

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