Dietary variety and food group consumption in children consuming a cows’ milk exclusion diet

Kate Maslin, Tara Dean, Syed Hasan Arshad, Carina Venter

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Background Dietary variety is defined as the number of different foods or food groups consumed over a given reference period, the consensus being that dietary variety and dietary quality are positively correlated. Recently there has been considerable interest in the association between infant dietary variety and atopic disease.
Methods This was a cross sectional study of 8- to 30-month-old children from the Isle of Wight, UK, including two groups: a group of children consuming a cows’ milk exclusion (CME) diet and a control group of children consuming an unrestricted diet. Parents completed a validated food frequency questionnaire, from which dietary variety and consumption of food groups was calculated. Growth measurements were recorded.
Results 126 participants of mean age 13.0 months were recruited. As well as expected differences in dairy and soya consumption, the CME group consumed sweet foods 1.6 times less frequently, non-water drinks 7 times less frequently (p < 0.05) and readymade baby foods 15 times more frequently (p < 0.01) than the control group. Overall dietary variety was significantly lower in the CME group (p < 0.01) as was variety of meat and sweet foods consumed. There was a greater concern with healthy eating in the CME group (p < 0.05).
Conclusions Children consuming an exclusion diet for cows’ milk allergy have an overall less varied diet, including a less varied consumption of meat and sweet foods. Efforts should be made to ensure exclusion diets are as varied as possible to optimise nutritional intake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-477
JournalPediatric Allergy and Immunology
Issue number5
Early online date27 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • dietary variety
  • cows’ milk allergy
  • infant diet


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