Background The long-term impact of childhood cancer treatment on dietary intake is likely to be complex and the length of time dietary behaviours are affected after childhood cancer treatment is unknown. Aim The aim of this study was to determine the diet quality in childhood cancer survivors recently off treatment and identify possible contributing factors that may affect diet quality in this population. Methods Participants were 65 parents and/or carers of childhood cancer survivors (CCS) (aged 2-18 years), recently off treatment and 81 age-matched controls. Methods Participants completed two self-administered dietary intake and eating behaviour questionnaires. Study data was explored to determine between group differences, bivariate analysis using Spearman’s correlations was used to determine the relationship between diet quality and identified variables, and hierarchical cluster analysis was completed to characterise specific variables into clusters. Results CCS had a significantly poorer diet quality score than the age-matched controls (t=-2.226, p=0.028). Childhood cancer survivors had significantly higher parent-reported rates of ‘picky eating’ behaviour than the control group (t=0.106 p=0.044). Factors such as picky eating, emotional overeating and Body Mass Index z-score appeared to drive diet quality in survivors. Conclusions A CCS with picky eating behaviours could avoid complete food groups, have strong food preferences/aversions and over- consume high energy foods to maintain their energy intake, possibly affecting diet quality. The outcomes highlighted the need for a tailored intervention aimed at improving healthy eating behaviours in CCS after treatment for cancer.
Background With improved survivorship and long-term health outcomes, the long-term nutritional management of childhood cancer survivors, from diagnosis to long-term follow-up, has become a priority. The aim of this study was to assess diet quality of children receiving treatment for cancer. Procedure Participants were parents of childhood cancer patients who were receiving active treatment and not receiving supplementary nutrition. A three-pass 24-hour dietary recall assessed food and nutrient intake. Serves of food group intakes and classification of core and discretionary items were made according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines and compared with age and sex recommendations. Results Sixty-four parents participated (75% female). Nearly all children were not consuming adequate intake of vegetables (94% of patients), fruit (77%) and milk/alternatives (75%). Of the vegetables that were consumed, half were classified as discretionary foods (e.g. chips/fries). Nearly half (49%) of children exceeded recommendations for total sugar intake and 65% of patients had an excessive sodium intake. Discussion The diet quality of children undergoing treatment for cancer is generally poor. Information provided during treatment should focus on educating parents on a healthy diet for their child, the importance of establishing healthy eating habits for life, and strategies to overcome barriers to intake during treatment.