Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Dietary Intake among California Children

Published:October 01, 2015DOI:



      The prevalence of childhood obesity among racial and ethnic minority groups is high. Multiple factors affect the development of childhood obesity, including dietary practices.


      To examine the racial and ethnic differences in reported dietary practices among the largest minority groups of California children.


      Data from the 2007 and 2009 California Health Interview Survey were analyzed using multivariate regression with survey weights to examine how race, ethnicity, sociodemographic characteristics, and child factors were associated with specific dietary practices.


      The sample included 15,902 children aged 2 to 11 years. In multivariate regressions, substantial differences in fruit juice, fruit, vegetable, sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets, and fast-food consumption were found among the major racial and ethnic groups of children. Asians regardless of interview language were more likely than whites to have low vegetable intake consumption (Asians English interview odds ratio [OR] 1.20, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.43; Asians non-English-interview OR 2.09, 95% CI 1.23 to 3.57) and low fruit consumption (Asians English interview OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.41 to 2.03; Asians non-English interview OR 3.04, 95% CI 2.00 to 4.6). Latinos regardless of interview language were also more likely than whites to have high fruit juice (Latinos English interview OR 1.54, 95% CI 1.28 to 1.84 and Latinos non-English interview OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.62) and fast-food consumption (Latinos English interview OR 1.74, 95% CI 1.46 to 2.08 and Latinos non-English interview OR 1.48, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.91); but Latinos were less likely than whites to consume sweets (Latinos English interview OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.66 to 0.99 and Latinos non-English interview OR 0.56, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.91).


      Significant racial and ethnic differences exist in the dietary practices of California children. Increased fruit and vegetable consumption appears to be associated with parent education but not income. Our findings suggest that anticipatory guidance and dietary counseling might benefit from tailoring to specific ethnic groups to potentially address disparities in overweight and obesity.


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      A. D. Guerrero is an assistant professor of pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Los Angeles Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities, Los Angeles; and Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute Mattel Children’s Hospital University of California, Los Angeles.


      P. Chung is an associate professor of pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles; Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute Mattel Children’s Hospital University of California, Los Angeles; Department of Health Policy & Management, University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles; and The Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA.