Research Projects Using Growing Up Data

In the field of speech language therapy, children are typically defined as having a "language disorder" if their scores on standardised language tests are below a cut-off (usually 1-1.5 standard deviations below the mean) and accompanied by difficulties w

Publication Date:
Lead Organisation:
University of Auckland
Lead Researcher:
Sanaz Samadian, Carin Napier, Teresa Gontijo de Castro
Access Type:
Primary Classification:
Health and Wellbeing
Secondary Classification:
Family and Whanau

This master’s proposal aims to assess the intake of ultra-processed foods and drinks (UPFD) at 9, 24 and 54 months and the maternal demographic and health behaviour characteristics associated with the intake of these food items within the pre-school years of the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) birth cohort study. The definition of UPFD will be based on NOVA classification [1] : foods and drinks that undergo a high level of processing and include many added ingredients such as sugars, oils, fats or salt to create highly palatable, convenient, branded and profitable products to displace other food groups in combination with intensive use of attractive packaging and intensive marketing.


1. To identify the UPFDs from the food-frequency questionnaires (FFQ) at 9, 24 and 54 months .

2. To quantify the intakes of UPFDs at the three time-pints: average daily frequency of intake at 9 months and average daily intake of serves at 24 and 54 months.

3. To examine the maternal sociodemographic and health behaviour characteristics associated with intakes of UPFDs at 9, 24 and 54 months.


This study will use data from 4 data collection waves: mother antenatal and children 9, 24 and 54 months. Maternal sociodemographic and health behaviour variables will be sourced from the antenatal, 9, 24 and 54-month maternal interviews. Information on dietary intakes of UPFDs will be sourced from the FFQs applied at the 9, 24 and 54-month maternal child proxy interviews. It will be quantified the children`s daily frequency of intake of UPFDs at 9 months and the children`s average serves intakes of UPFDs at 24 and 54 months. For the analyses examining associations of intakes of UPFDs and the maternal variables the children will be ranked within the quintiles of intakes of UPFDs (using GUiNZ distributions of intake of these items in each time point). Data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and associations will be examined using adjusted Poisson regressions with robust variance using software SPSS (α = 5%).

Anticipated outcomes

This project will provide valuable and nationally generalisable information about the prevalence of UPFD consumption among New Zealand pre-schooler children, as well as on the maternal factors associated with higher/lower intakes of these items. Findings of the study will also provide insights for future research questions in GUiNZ that aim to examine the impact of UPFDs in children/young people`s health and wellbeing. Findings of the study will be disseminated via the thesis work of the student (Masters in Dietetics), research paper and potentially as a Policy Brief.


1 . Monteiro, C.A., Cannon, G., Lawrence, M., Costa Louzada, M.L. and Pereira Machado, P. 2019. Ultra-processed foods, diet quality and human health. Rome, FAO.