Objective: The objective of this study was to assess changes in food group consumption patterns from childhood to young adulthood.
Design: Twenty-four-hour dietary recalls were collected on a longitudinal sample of young adults.
Subjects/setting: Dietary intake data were collected on 246 young adults (70% European American, 30% African American) aged 19 to 28 years who participated in a previous cross-sectional survey when they were 10-year-olds.
Statistical analyses: Descriptive statistics and linear mixed models adjusting for study time (age), sex, and ethnicity.
Results: In childhood, consumption of fruits/fruit juice and mixed meats ( P </=.05), desserts, candy, and milk ( P </=.0001) were greater than in young adulthood. Young adulthood consumption was greater for sweetened beverages, poultry and seafood ( P </=.001), salty snacks ( P </=.05), and beef ( P </=.01) compared to childhood. Milk consumption decreased, but the decrease was greater among males ( P </=.0001). Sweetened beverage consumption increased, but the increase was greater for European Americans ( P </=.0001). Candy consumption decreased, but the decrease was greater for African Americans ( P </=.05).
Conclusions: Changes occur in food group consumption patterns from childhood to young adulthood. Overall, there was a decrease in diet quality during this age transition. Understanding eating habits of children early in life is important for planning effective intervention strategies.