This study examined clustering of food and activity preferences in Dutch primary school children. It also explored whether the preference clusters are associated with child and parental background characteristics and with parenting practices. Data were used from 1480 parent-child dyads participating in the IVO Nutrition and Physical Activity Child cohort (INPACT). Children aged 8-11. years reported their preferences for food (e.g. fruit and sweet snacks) and activities (e.g. biking and watching television) at school with a newly-developed, visual instrument designed for primary school children. Parents completed a questionnaire at home. Principal component analysis was used to identify preference clusters. Backward regression analyses were used to examine the relationship between child and parental characteristics with cluster scores. We found (1) a clustering of preferences for unhealthy foods and unhealthy drinks, (2) a clustering of preferences for various physical activity behaviours, and (3) a clustering of preferences for unhealthy drinks and sedentary behaviour. Boys had a higher cluster score than girls on all three preference clusters. In addition, physical activity-related parenting practices were negatively related to unhealthy preference clusters and positively to the physical-activity-preference cluster. The next step is to relate our preference clusters to child dietary and activity behaviours, with special attention to gender differences. This may help in the development of interventions aimed at improving children's food and activity preferences.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam