Food sources of energy and nutrients in Finnish girls and boys 6-8 years of age - the PANIC study

Food Nutr Res. 2016 Sep 30:60:32444. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v60.32444. eCollection 2016.


Background: Data on food sources of nutrients are needed to improve strategies to enhance nutrient intake among girls and boys in Western countries.

Objective: To identify major food sources of energy, energy nutrients, dietary fibre, and micronutrients, and to study gender differences in these food sources among children.

Design: We assessed food consumption and nutrient intake using 4-day food records in a population sample of Finnish girls (n=213) and boys (n=217) aged 6-8 years from the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children Study. We calculated the percentual contribution of 55 food groups for energy and nutrient intake using the population proportion method.

Results: Low-fibre grain products, skimmed milk, and high-fibre bread provided almost 23% of total energy intake. Skimmed milk was the top source of protein (18% of total intake), vitamin D (32%), potassium (20%), calcium (39%), magnesium (17%), and zinc (16%). Vegetable oils (15%) and high-fat vegetable oil-based spreads (14%) were the top sources of polyunsaturated fat. High-fibre bread was the top source of fibre (27%) and iron (12%). Non-root vegetables were the top source of folate (14%) and vitamin C (22%). Sugar-sweetened beverages provided 21% of sucrose intake. Pork was a more important source of protein and sausage was a more important source of total fat and monounsaturated fat in boys than in girls. Vegetable oils provided a higher proportion of unsaturated fat and vitamin E among boys, whereas high-fat vegetable oil-based spreads provided a higher proportion of these nutrients among girls.

Conclusion: Commonly recommended foods, such as skimmed milk, high-fibre grain products, vegetables, vegetable oil, and vegetable oil-based spreads, were important sources of several nutrients, whereas sugar-sweetened beverages provided the majority of sucrose intake among children. This knowledge can be used in improving health among children by dietary interventions, nutrition education, and health policy decision making.

Keywords: children; energy; food sources; gender differences; minerals; nutrients; vitamins.