Comparison of 3 methods for counting fruits and vegetables for fourth-grade students in the Minnesota 5 A Day Power Plus Program

J Am Diet Assoc. 1998 Jul;98(7):777-82; quiz 783-4. doi: 10.1016/S0002-8223(98)00175-8.


Objective: To compare fruit and vegetable servings calculated from 24-hour dietary recall data using 3 methods: a counting scheme developed for the 5 A Day for Better Health study, a method developed by the University of Minnesota Cancer Prevention Research Unit to quantify total consumption of fruits and vegetables, and a counting scheme based on the US Food and Drug Administration's Reference Amounts. The counting methods differ by food items counted and by serving sizes for those items.

Subjects/setting: Record-assisted 24-hour dietary recalls were collected from 617 randomly selected fourth-grade students (317 girls, 300 boys) from 23 schools in St Paul, Minn, participating in the Minnesota 5 A Day Power Plus Program.

Design: The dietary recalls were analyzed using the Minnesota Nutrition Data System (version 2.6/8a/23). Total servings of fruits and vegetables, servings of vegetables, servings of fruits plus juices, servings of fruit juice, and servings of fruit excluding juice were tallied using each counting method.

Statistical analyses: A mixed-model Poisson regression analysis was conducted to compare numbers of servings calculated using the 3 methods.

Results: Counts of daily total fruits and vegetables averaged 3.9 servings with the 5 A Day method, 4.1 servings using US Food and Drug Administration Reference Amounts, and 5.1 servings with the Minnesota Cancer Prevention Research Unit method (P < .0001).

Applications: Because the different counting methods yield different tallies of fruit and vegetable intake, it is important for researchers and practitioners interested in fruit and vegetable consumption to be clear about their uses of the data before choosing a counting scheme.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Diet / standards*
  • Diet Records*
  • Female
  • Fruit* / classification
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minnesota
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Regression Analysis
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration
  • Vegetables* / classification