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OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to describe dietary intake and eating behaviours of obese children and adolescents, and also to determine how these differ in Indigenous versus non-Indigenous children at enrolment in an obesity programme. METHODS: Baseline dietary intake and eating behaviour records were assessed from those enrolled in a clinical unblinded randomised controlled trial of a multi-disciplinary intervention. The setting was a community-based obesity programme in Taranaki, New Zealand. Children or adolescents who were enrolled from January 2012 to August 2014, with a BMI ≥98th percentile or >91st centile with weight-related comorbidities were eligible. RESULTS: 239 participants (45% Māori, 45% NZ Europeans, 10% other ethnicities), aged 5-17 years were assessed. Two-thirds of participants experienced hyperphagia and half were not satiated after a meal. Comfort eating was reported by 62% of participants, and daily energy intake was above the recommended guidelines for 54%. Fruit and vegetable intake was suboptimal compared with the recommended 5 servings per day (mean 3.5 [SD = 1.9] servings per day), and the mean weekly breakfasts were less than the national average (5.9 vs 6.5; p<0.0001). Median sweet drink intake amongst Māori was twice that of NZ Europeans (250 vs 125 ml per day; p = 0.0002). CONCLUSIONS: There was a concerning prevalence of abnormal eating behaviours and significant differences in dietary intake between obese participants and their national counterparts. Ethnic differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants were also present, especially in relation to sweet drink consumption. Eating behaviours, especially sweet drink consumption and fruit/vegetable intake need to be addressed.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Eating, Energy Intake, Feeding Behavior, Female, Humans, Hyperphagia, Male, New Zealand, Obesity, Vegetable Products