Research Research and Professional Brief| Volume 109, ISSUE 3, P474-478, March 2009

Correlates of Fruit and Vegetable Intakes in US Children


      The objective of this study was to assess the quality of the current intakes of fruits and vegetables compared to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in US children and adolescents and identify factors related to low fruit and vegetable intake. This descriptive study examined differences in fruit and vegetable intakes by age, sex, ethnicity, poverty level, body mass index, and food security status utilizing data from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Six thousand five hundred thirteen children and adolescents ages 2 to 18 years, who were respondents to the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Mean fruit and vegetable intakes were computed using 24-hour recalls for individuals and compared using analysis of variance. Leading contributors to fruit and vegetable intake were identified using frequency analysis. Children aged 2 to 5 years had significantly higher total fruit and juice intakes than 6- to 11- and 12- to 18-year-olds. Total vegetable and french fry intake was significantly higher among 12- to 18-year-old adolescents. Regarding sex differences, boys consumed significantly more fruit juice and french fries than girls. In addition, non-Hispanic African-American children and adolescents consumed significantly more dark-green vegetables and fewer mean deep-yellow vegetables than Mexican-American and non-Hispanic white children and adolescents. Total fruit consumption also differed significantly among race/ethnicities and household income. Children and adolescents most at risk for higher intakes of energy-dense fruits and vegetables (fruit juice and french fries) were generally boys, and adolescents, at risk for overweight or overweight and living in households below 350% of the poverty level.
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      B. A. Lorson is a registered dietitian, The Ohio State University, Columbus


      H. R. Melgar-Quinonez is an assistant professor, Department of Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, Columbus


      C. A. Taylor is an assistant professor, Division of Medical Dietetics, The Ohio State University, Columbus