Objective: To estimate the prevalence of inadequate usual intakes of nutrients by school-aged children.
Design: A descriptive study using data from the US Department of Agriculture 1994 to 1996 Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals. Each subject provided two 24-hour recalls. We adjusted for day-to-day variation in nutrient intake and estimated the percentage of children with intakes below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) using the Software for Intake Distribution Estimation Program.
Subjects: A national sample of noninstitutionalized children aged 6 to 18 years (N=2,692).
Statistical analyses: Chi2 tests showed that background characteristics or percentages with intakes below the EAR were the same across the 6 gender-age and racial/ethnic groups. The SUDAAN statistical package was used to account for the complex sample design.
Results: Usual intakes were more favorable for 5 B vitamins and iron than for the other nutrients examined. High percentages of children had intakes below the EAR for vitamin E. Many children aged 9 years and older had intakes below the EAR for folate and magnesium. Females aged 9 years and older had low calcium intakes relative to the Adequate Intake value. Females aged 14 to 18 years were at highest risk of usual intakes that did not meet the EARs. Few males in this age group met the EAR for vitamin E or magnesium.
Applications: Females aged 14 to 18, in particular, should be targeted for efforts to improve nutrient intakes. Studies should monitor children's usual nutrient intakes after adjusting for day-to-day variation.