Objective: There is limited information on the nutritional health of Canadian children, particularly those living in poverty. Our purpose was to assess the dietary and anthropometric status of economically disadvantaged children as part of the longitudinal, multidisciplinary prevention project, Better Beginnings, Better Futures.
Methods: We obtained 24-hour dietary recalls and measurements of height, weight, triceps skinfolds and mid-arm circumference from children (n = 178) aged 7 to 9 years in three urban communities. Information on demographic characteristics was obtained through a parent interview.
Results: Linear growth appeared adequate with both boys (chi 2 = 44.1, p < .001) and girls (chi 2 = 10.8, p < .01) taller compared to NCHS reference data. The proportion of children > 90th percentile for weight-for-height (23.2%) and upper arm fat area (14.3%), suggests a tendency to excess fat; 21.1% were < 10th for percentile upper arm muscle area. Median nutrient intakes, except for calcium and vitamin A, exceeded the Canadian Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI); however, median energy intake was well below the RNI. Energy and macronutrient intakes were similar across Z score categories of weight-for-height, upper arm muscle area, and upper arm fat area.
Conclusions: The tendency to inadequate muscle mass and excess fat in the presence of low energy intake may reflect low levels of physical activity.