Generic meal patterns identified by latent class analysis: insights from NANS (National Adult Nutrition Survey)

Irina Uzhova, Clara Woolhead, Claire M. Timon, Aifric O'Sullivan, Lorraine Brennan, Jose L. Penalvo, Eileen R. Gibney

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    Nutritional data reduction methods are widely applied in nutrition epidemiology in order to classify individuals into meaningful groups with similar dietary patterns. To date, none of the existing studies have applied latent class analysis to examine dietary patterns which include meal types consumed throughout a day. We investigated main meal patterns followed on weekend and weekdays, and evaluated their associations with cardio-metabolic biomarkers. The analyses were performed within the NANS (National Adult Nutrition Survey) a cross-sectional national food consumption survey of 1500 nationally representative Irish adults. A total number of seven dietary patterns were identified using latent class analysis. The typical meal pattern followed by the majority of the population was characterized by consumption of cereal or toast for breakfast, skipping or consuming a sandwich for light meal, and meat or fish with potatoes, pasta or vegetables for the main meal. Eating patterns differed on weekends, and those participants who consumed meat and eggs for breakfast instead of breakfast cereal and skipped light meal were more likely to have an unhealthier dietary pattern, a higher diastolic blood pressure, and increased serum ferritin. The application of data reduction techniques to simplify the multifaceted nature of dietary data is a useful approach to derive patterns, which might shed further light on the typical dietary patterns followed by populations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number310
    Issue number3
    Number of pages16
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Adiposity
    • Biomarkers/blood
    • Blood Pressure
    • Body Mass Index
    • Cross-Sectional Studies
    • Energy Intake
    • Feeding Behavior
    • Female
    • Healthy Diet/trends
    • Humans
    • Ireland
    • Male
    • Meals
    • Nutrition Surveys
    • Nutritive Value
    • Time Factors
    • Waist-Hip Ratio


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