|EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE
Tuesday, September 2, 1997
5:00 PM Eastern Time
NCI Press Office
U.S. Children Failing to Meet National Dietary Recommendations:
Extra Fat and Added Sugar are Main Culprits
- About 30 percent of kids and teens met dietary recommendations for fruit, grain,
meat, or dairy foods and 36 percent met those for vegetables.
- Total fat made up, on average, 35 percent of calories and this did not vary by age,
sex, ethnicity, or income. Extra, or discretionary, fat was most of this -- about
25 percent of calories. The Food Pyramid calculates servings based on the lowest
fat option in any category -- lean meat, skim milk, etc. Any fat more than that,
including higher fat options of foods such as whole milk as well as added butter or
sauces, is considered "discretionary."
- Added sugar, which is sugar added to foods, not the natural sugars in fruits and
grains, averages 15 percent of total calories.
- Children with the highest intakes of fruit had the lowest intakes of fat -- about
30 percent to 32 percent of total calories compared to 35 percent or more for other
- Intakes of milk in 2- to 5-year olds and 6- to 11-year olds are at or near the
- Teenage boys were more likely to meet minimum recommendations for grains,
vegetables, and meats than other groups. (Vegetables includes potatoes).
Teenage girls met none of the minimums.
- Whites had higher intakes of grains and dairy foods, and blacks came closer to
meeting recommendations for meat intake.
- Fruit and dairy intake increased with increasing income.
- The amount of vegetables eaten increased with age, but fruit intake decreased with
age (teenage girls being the exception, possibly because they are eating fruits as an
effort to diet.)
What can parents do? Krebs-Smith and her colleagues recommend starting with small
substitutions: Change from whole milk to lower fat milk to reduce fat intake -- children over
2 years old do not need whole milk for adequate growth. Increase opportunities for children to
eat fruits and vegetables -- have juices in the fridge instead of soda and keep raw vegetables and
low-fat dips on hand. Choose pretzels instead of corn chips or potato chips for snacking.
Suggest teens eat grilled chicken sandwiches instead of fried chicken nuggets or low-fat milk
instead of a milkshake when they eat out.
NCI also has an Action Guide for Health Eating, with a variety of tips to help plan a
well-balanced diet. This brochure is available through NCI's Cancer Information Service
Note: Dr. Munoz is now employed by Merck and Co., Inc., in Blue Bell, Pa.
* The study, titled "Food Intakes of U.S. Children and Adolescents Compared to
Recommendations," was published in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics. The authors are Kathryn A. Munoz, Susan M. Krebs-Smith, Rachel Ballard-Barbash, and Linda E. Cleveland.
Recommended number of servings from each food group for three levels of energy intake
(from the USDA Food Guide Pyramid)
1 slice of bread, 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal, ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta
½ cup of cooked vegetables (including potatoes), 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, 6 ounces of vegetable juice
½ cup of cooked or chopped fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 6 ounces of juice, medium piece of fruit
1 cup of milk or yogurt,
1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, 2 ounces of processed cheese
Meat in ounces
*dairy recommendation is not based on energy needs.
For children ages 2-3 who eat less than 1,600 calories a day, serving sizes are two-thirds the
amounts listed above.
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