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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT AND PREVENTION OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Nutrient contribution of the dinner meal consumed by low-income minority preschool children

Authors
item O'Neil, Carol -
item Nicklas, Theresa -
item Hughes, Sheryl -
item Liu, Yan -

Submitted to: International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 5, 2012
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Citation: O'Neil, C.E., Nicklas, T.A., Hughes, S.O., Liu, Y. 2012. Nutrient contribution of the dinnder meal consumed by low-income minority preschool children. International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition. 1:11-22.

Interpretive Summary: Data from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that nearly 27% of US children 2 to 5 years of age were overweight or obese. There was also considerable variation in race/ethnicity, with Hispanic children having a higher prevalence of overweight/obesity than either black or white preschool children. Low-income children, attending Head Start, a school readiness program, may be more likely to be overweight or obese than other pre-school children. This study showed that 38.78% of Head Start children were overweight or obese. This study also showed that Head Start children had low intakes of nutrients of public health concern (dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, and potassium). Nutrition educators should address healthy eating and consumption of recommended levels of high fiber foods, including whole grains, fruit, and vegetables, and low-fat dairy with parents of preschool children. Additionally, nutrition education could be provided in Head Start centers to children and their parents. Education needs to be targeted specifically to racially/ethnically diverse groups. This may be an important strategy in the prevention and reduction of childhood obesity and a way to increase overall diet quality.

Technical Abstract: The goal of this study was to examine the energy and nutrient intake of dinner of low-income preschool minority groups, African-Americans and Mexican-Americans, attending Head Start. A cross-sectional study of intake at dinner using digital photography was undertaken. Pictorial records were converted to energy and nutrient intakes using Nutrition Data System for Research nutritional software. Total grams of food and beverages, energy, and macro- and micro-nutrients were determined and compared with recommendations. The study used home assessment dinner of children enrolled in Head Start in Houston, Texas. The participants were low-income children (n=214), 3 to 5 years. This study showed that 38.78% of Head Start children were overweight or obese. This study also showed that Head Start children had low intakes of nutrients of public health concern (dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, and potassium). In summary, children participating in Head Start had low intakes of nutrients of public health concern at the dinner meal. The dinner meal is an integral part of the daily intake of preschool children, and this study suggests that micronutrient intakes could be improved. It is important to educate mothers and children as to what constitutes a nutrient-dense meal and to confront barriers to consumption of these meals.

Last Modified: 4/21/2014
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