Data-driven approaches to dietary patterns are under-utilized; latent class analyses (LCA) are particularly rare. The present study used an LCA to identify subgroups of people with similar dietary patterns, explore changes in dietary patterns over a 10-year period and relate these dynamics to sociodemographic factors and health outcomes.
The 1998 baseline and 2008 follow-up of the Cork and Kerry Diabetes and Heart Disease Study. Diets were assessed with a standard FFQ. LCA, under the assumption of conditional independence, was used to identify mutually exclusive subgroups with different dietary patterns, based on food group consumption.
Republic of Ireland.
Men and women aged 50-69 years at baseline (n 923) and at 10-year follow-up (n 320).
Three dietary classes emerged: Western, Healthy and Low-Energy. Significant differences in demographic, lifestyle and health outcomes were associated with class membership. Between baseline and follow-up most people remained 'stable' in their dietary class. Most of those who changed class moved to the Healthy class. Higher education was associated with transition to a healthy diet; lower education was associated with stability in an unhealthy pattern. Transition to a healthy diet was associated with higher CVD risk factors at baseline: respondents were significantly more likely to be smokers, centrally obese and to have hypertension (non-significant).
LCA is useful for exploring dietary patterns transitions. Understanding the predictors of longitudinal stability/transitions in dietary patterns will help target public health initiatives by identifying subgroups most/least likely to change and most/least likely to sustain a change.