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A Longitudinal Investigation of Nutrition and Dietary Patterns in Children of Mothers with Eating Disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abigail Easter, Ulrike Naumann, Kate Northstone, Ulrike Schmidt, Janet Treasure, Nadia Micali

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-178.e1
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jan 2013
E-pub ahead of print17 Jan 2013
PublishedJul 2013

King's Authors


OBJECTIVE: To investigate dietary patterns and nutritional intake in children of mothers with eating disorders.

STUDY DESIGN: Mothers (N = 9423) from a longitudinal general population birth cohort study, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, completed Food Frequency Questionnaires on their children at 3, 4, 7, and 9 years of age. Macronutrient intake was estimated, and dietary patterns were obtained using principal components analysis. Linear regression and mixed-effects models were used to assess dietary patterns and nutritional intake among children of women with lifetime anorexia nervosa (AN, n = 140), bulimia nervosa (BN, n = 170), or AN+BN (n = 71), compared with children of women without eating disorders (unexposed women, n = 9037).

RESULTS: Children in the maternal AN and BN groups had higher scores on the "health conscious/vegetarian" dietary pattern compared with unexposed children. Less adherence to the "traditional" dietary pattern was observed in children of exposed mothers, with more pronounced differences in early childhood. Children of women with AN and BN had higher intake of energy and children of women with BN had higher intake of carbohydrates and starch and lower intake of fat, compared with children in the unexposed group.

CONCLUSIONS: Maternal eating disorders are associated with altered offspring dietary patterns and macronutrient intake. Longitudinal changes in patterns of diet in children of women with eating disorders may increase the risk of weight gain or disordered eating later in life.

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