Research Current Research| Volume 108, ISSUE 5, P804-814, May 2008

Sources of Food Group Intakes among the US Population, 2001-2002



      Food guides are typically built around a system of food groups. Accordingly, the US Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid includes both food groups and subgroups, as well as an allowance for discretionary calories, in its guidance.


      To identify the major dietary contributors to food group intake in the US population.


      This cross-sectional study used 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data to determine weighted population proportions for the contribution of each subgroup to its MyPyramid food group (ie, proportion), and the contribution of specific foods to the subgroups oils, solid fats, and added sugars (ie, major contributors). Food codes associated with each food were sorted into 96 categories, termed specific foods, and were linked to the MyPyramid Equivalents Database to obtain food group equivalents.


      In regard to proportion, dark green vegetables (6%), orange vegetables (5%), and legumes (6%) fell well short of recommended levels. Intake of whole grains (10% of total) was far below the recommendation that at least half of all grains be whole. In regard to major contributors, top sources of oils were potato chips, salad dressing, and nuts/seeds; major contributors of solid fats were grain-based desserts, cheese, and sausages. Sweetened carbonated beverages provided 37% of added sugars.


      Americans do not, in general, consume the most nutrient-dense forms of basic food groups, instead consuming foods that are high in solid fats and added sugars. The main culprits—the foods that contribute most to discrepancies between recommendations and actual intake—are sweetened carbonated beverages and other sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, nonskim dairy products, and fatty meats.
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      J. L. Bachman is a graduate student, Department of Nutrition, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.


      J. Reedy and A. F. Subar are nutritionists and S. M. Krebs-Smith is chief, Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch, Applied Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Science, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD.