Limited data exist regarding eating behaviours of obese children in New Zealand.
AIM: To assess nutritional characteristics at Whanau Pakari baseline assessments, and compare with national data.
METHOD: Referral criteria were BMI>98th centile, or >91st centile with significant weight-related co-morbidities, age 5-16 years. Assessments included 24 hour food recall, modified Children's Dietary Questionnaire1, and knowledge of healthy food.
RESULTS: 240 assessments were analysed. Primary ethnicity was Maori for 109 (45%), New Zealand European (NZE) for 109 (45%), Pacific for 6 (3%), Asian for 6 (3%) and other for 10 (4%). Average age was 10 years, and 53% were female. Average meal duration was 14 minutes (range 2-60). 62% of participants (n=148 were described as "comfort eaters". The average number of breakfasts eaten per week was 5.6 (range 0-7). Only 66% (n=160) ate breakfast every day of the week (vs. 87% of 2-14 year olds nationally).2 Maori ate fewer breakfasts per week than NZE (5.3 vs. 5.9, p=0.01). Children living in the most deprived 20% of households ate fewer breakfasts per week than those living in the least deprived 20% of households (5.3 vs. 6.3, p=0.05).3 Both of these findings reflected national data.2 Of the 240 baseline records, average fruit and vegetable servings per day were 1.8 and 1.7 respectively (both range 0-5). Only 56% (n=134) consumed the recommended ≥2 fruit servings/day (vs. 68% nationally), and 21% (n=51) consumed the recommended ≥3 servings of vegetables/day (vs. 40% nationally).4 Daily number of fruit servings did not differ between Maori and NZE (1.9 vs. 1.8, p=0.44). Daily number of vegetable servings were lower (1.6 vs. 1.9 respectively, p=0.015) and daily sweet drink intake was higher (376ml vs. 195ml, p=0.0003) for Maori compared with NZE.
CONCLUSION: The low consumption of fruit and vegetables, skipping of breakfasts, and ethnic differences in dietary habits amongst New Zealand children and adolescents needs to be addressed.