Dietary Intake and Cardiometabolic Risk in Ethnically Diverse Urban Schoolchildren

Published:October 24, 2012DOI:


      Dietary factors vary widely among ethnic groups. However, the effect of specific nutrients on cardiometabolic risk is not well understood, especially in children. Four dietary factors known to influence cardiometabolic risk (ie, carbohydrate, saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat intake) were assessed by the Block Kids 2004 Food Frequency Questionnaire in a cross-sectional sample of racially diverse fourth- through eighth-grade students (n=148) in a Boston-area school district studied between January and April 2010. Fasting total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglyceride, C-reactive protein (CRP), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels, and body mass index z scores were measured. Differences in dietary factors and cardiometabolic risk factors were examined among the following racial/ethnic groups: white (39%), Hispanic (32%), black (8%), Asian (10%), and multiracial/other (11%). In bivariate analyses, total, saturated, and polyunsaturated fat intakes differed by race/ethnicity (P<0.05), with white and black children reporting saturated fat intakes above the recommended level. Forty-seven percent of children had at least one suboptimal cardiometabolic risk factor. HDL cholesterol, triglyceride, and IL-6 concentrations differed by race/ethnicity (P<0.05, P<0.01, and P<0.01, respectively), with Hispanics having low HDL cholesterol levels and high triglyceride levels, whereas Asians had high IL-6 levels. In multivariate analyses controlling for demographic characteristics, none of the dietary factors examined explained racial/ethnic differences in lipid profiles or inflammatory markers. Body mass index z score was associated with lower HDL cholesterol, higher triglyceride, higher CRP, and higher IL-6 levels (P<0.0001). Further research is warranted to determine the influence of dietary recommendations at a young age among different racial/ethnic groups on cardiometabolic health.


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      L. E. Au is a doctoral student, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA.


      C. D. Economos is an associate professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA.


      R. F. Houser is an assistant professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA.


      J. M. Sacheck is an associate professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA.


      E. Goodman is the director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, Boston, MA.


      A. Must is a professor and dean of the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.


      V. R. Chomitz is an assistant professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and the Department of Public Health & Community Medicine, School of Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, MA.


      E. H. Morgan is a doctoral student at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.