Factors influencing early feeding of foods and drinks containing free sugars—a birth cohort study

Diep H. Ha, Loc G. Do, Andrew John Spencer, William Murray Thomson, Rebecca K. Golley, Andrew J. Rugg-Gunn, Steven M. Levy, Jane A. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Early feeding of free sugars to young children can increase the preference for sweetness and the risk of consuming a cariogenic diet high in free sugars later in life. This study aimed to investigate early life factors influencing early introduction of foods/drinks containing free sugars. Data from an ongoing population-based birth cohort study in Australia were used. Mothers of newborn children completed questionnaires at birth and subsequently at ages 3, 6, 12, and 24 months. The outcome was reported feeding (Yes/No) at age 6-9 months of common foods/drinks sources of free sugars (hereafter referred as foods/drinks with free sugars). Household income quartiles, mother’s sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption, and other maternal factors were exposure variables. Analysis was conducted progressively from bivariate to multivariable log-binomial regression with robust standard error estimation to calculate prevalence ratios (PR) of being fed foods/drinks with free sugars at an early age (by 6-9 months). Models for both complete cases and with multiple imputations (MI) for missing data were generated. Of 1479 mother/child dyads, 21% of children had been fed foods/drinks with free sugars. There was a strong income gradient and a significant positive association with maternal SSB consumption. In the complete-case model, income Q1 and Q2 had PRs of 1.9 (1.2-3.1) and 1.8 (1.2-2.6) against Q4, respectively. The PR for mothers ingesting SSB everyday was 1.6 (1.2-2.3). The PR for children who had been breastfed to at least three months was 0.6 (0.5-0.8). Similar findings were observed in the MI model. Household income at birth and maternal behaviours were significant determinants of early feeding of foods/drinks with free sugars.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1270
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 23 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Free sugars
  • Infant
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Cite this