Open Access Open Badges Research

The consumption of unhealthy foods by Brazilian children is influenced by their mother’s educational level

Silvia Regina Dias Medici Saldiva1*, Sonia Isoyama Venancio1, Andréia Cardoso de Santana1, Ana Lucia da Silva Castro1, Maria Mercedes Loureiro Escuder1 and Elsa Regina Justo Giugliani2

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Saúde, Secretaria do Estado da Saúde de São Paulo, Rua Santo Antônio, 590, Bela Vista, 01314-000 São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2 Departamento de Pediatria e Puericultura, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Faculdade de Medicina, Rua Ramiro Barcelos, 2400, Santa Cecília, 90035-003 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

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Nutrition Journal 2014, 13:33  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-33

Published: 3 April 2014



To evaluate the association between the consumption of unhealthy foods in children under one year and the education level of the mothers, data obtained from participants of the II Survey on the prevalence of breastfeeding in the Brazilian capitals and the Federal District in 2008 was analyzed.


During the second stage of the campaign for multi-vaccination, a questionnaire on food consumption in the last 24 hours was given to mothers or guardians of children under one year old. We analyzed the consumption of unhealthy foods according to age group, maternal education, region of residence and breastfeeding status. The state capitals and the Federal District were grouped according to the five macro-regions of the country (North, Northeast, Southeast, South and West). Processed juice, soda, coffee, cookies/salted snacks and sugar and/or honey were defined as unhealthy foods. Prevalence ratios (RP) for the association between the consumption of unhealthy foods and maternal education were estimated using Poisson regression models. Results: The study included 34,366 children. The consumption of sweet foods started early and was predominant until the age of six months; after this age, the consumption of biscuits and/or snacks became more prevalent. The consumption of these foods also differs in relation to the macro-region of residence. Consumption of unhealthy foods was higher among mothers with lower education levels.


The consumption of unhealthy foods by Brazilian children under one year old was high, indicating a need for developing effective strategies to combat the consumption of unhealthy foods in Brazilian children as a way of preventing obesity and other future disorders.

Supplementary feeding; Food habits; Infant; Cross-sectional study