Research Original Research| Volume 115, ISSUE 6, P907-918.e6, June 2015

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Energy and Nutrient Intakes from Processed Foods Differ by Sex, Income Status, and Race/Ethnicity of US Adults

Published:January 08, 2015DOI:



      The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends nutrients to increase and to decrease for US adults. The contributions processed foods make to the US intake of nutrients to increase and decrease may vary by the level of processing and by population subgroup.


      The hypotheses that the intakes of nutrients to increase or decrease, as specified by the DGA, are contributed exclusively from certain processed food categories and consumed differentially by population subgroups by sex, poverty-income ratio (ratio of household income to poverty threshold), and race/ethnicity was tested along with the hypothesis that specific processed food categories are responsible for nutrient intake differences between the population subgroups.


      The 24-hour dietary recall data from the cross-sectional 2003-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was used to determine population subgroup energy and nutrient intake differences among processed food categories defined by the International Food Information Council Foundation Continuum of Processed Foods.


      Fifteen thousand fifty-three US adults aged ≥19 years.

      Statistical analyses performed

      The mean daily intake of energy and nutrients from processed food categories reported by population subgroups were compared using regression analysis to determine covariate-adjusted least square means.


      Processed food categories that contributed to energy and nutrient intake differences within subgroups did not uniformly or exclusively contribute nutrients to increase or decrease per DGA recommendations. The between-group differences in mean daily intake of both nutrients to increase and decrease contributed by the various processed food categories were diverse and were not contributed exclusively from specific processed food categories.


      Recommendations for a diet adhering to the DGA should continue to focus on the energy and nutrient content, frequency of consumption, and serving size of individual foods rather than the level of processing.


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      H. A. Eicher-Miller is an assistant professor, Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.


      V. L. Fulgoni III is senior vice president, Nutrition Impact, LLC, Battle Creek, MI.


      D. R. Keast is president, Food & Nutrition Database Research, Inc, Okemos, MI.