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Associations between partnering and parenting transitions and dietary habits in young adults

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 01:31 authored by Kylie SmithKylie Smith, McNaughton, SA, Seana GallSeana Gall, Petr OtahalPetr Otahal, Dwyer, T, Alison VennAlison Venn
Background: Partnering and parenting are important life-stage transitions that often occur during young adulthood. Little is known about how these transitions affect two dietary behaviors linked to increased cardiometabolic disease risk: skipping breakfast and takeaway-food consumption.

Objective: Our aim was to examine whether partnering and parenting transitions during a 5-year period were associated with change in diet quality, skipping breakfast, and takeaway-food consumption.

Design: We conducted a cohort study. Questionnaires were completed at baseline (2004 to 2006) and follow-up (2009 to 2011). Marital status and number of children were self-reported.

Participants/setting: Australian participants (n = 1,402 [39% men]) aged 26 to 36 years were included.

Main outcomes measures: Diet quality was assessed using a Dietary Guideline Index. Breakfast skipping (not eating before 9 am the previous day) and frequent takeaway-food consumption (≥ 2 times/week) were reported.

Statistical analysis: Linear regression (mean differences in Dietary Guideline Index) and log binomial regression (relative risks for skipping breakfast and frequent takeaway-food consumption) were adjusted for age, education, follow-up duration, day of the week (skipping breakfast only), the other transition, and baseline behavior.

Results: During the 5-year follow-up, 101 men and 93 women became married/living as married, and 149 men and 155 women had their first child. Diet quality improved among all groups and was similar at follow-up between those who experienced the transitions and those who did not. Compared to having no children, having a first child was associated with a lower risk of skipping breakfast for men (relative risk 0.65; 95% CI 0.42 to 1.01) and women (relative risk 0.47; 95% CI 0.31 to 0.72). Men who became partnered also had a lower risk of skipping breakfast than those who remained single (relative risk 0.64; 95% CI 0.42 to 0.98). The transitions were not significantly associated with takeaway-food consumption.

Conclusions: Life-stage transitions were not associated with better diet quality. Participants who became partnered or parents were more likely to eat breakfast at follow-up than those who remained single or had no children.


Publication title

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics










Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Elsevier Inc.

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2017 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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  • Restricted

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