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ARS Home » Plains Area » Houston, Texas » Children's Nutrition Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #226144

Title: Diet Quality Varies by Race/Ethnicity of Head Start Mothers

item Hoerr, Sharon
item Tsuei, Eugenia
item Liu, Yan
item Franklin, Frank
item Nicklas, Theresa

Submitted to: Journal Of The American Dietetic Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2008
Publication Date: 4/1/2008
Citation: Hoerr, S.L., Tsuei, E., Liu, Y., Franklin, F.A., Nicklas, T.A. 2008. Diet quality varies by race/ethnicity of Head Start mothers. Journal of The American Dietetic Association. 108:651-659.

Interpretive Summary: Despite limited income for food, there were important differences in diet quality among race/ethnic groups. The Hispanic-American mothers had better diet quality compared to the Black/White mothers, possibly due in part to limited acculturation. It is ironic that although good diet quality is a factor that can reduce the risk for costly chronic diseases, those groups most at risk, such as those with limited resources, are often the least likely to consume them. Nevertheless, the Hispanic-American women in Texas managed to find ways to consume 4.6 c/day fruit and vegetables on average. These findings have implications for ways that health professionals can offer cost-conscious ways to meet recommended nutrient intakes in low-income families. In addition, these findings offer evidence that some families with limited incomes do manage to consume diets not as low in fruit, vegetables, and milk as is generally believed.

Technical Abstract: Despite the key role that women from limited income families play as family food providers and their high risk for diet-related chronic diseases, there is a paucity of data about their diet quality and how it might vary by race/ethnicity. Our objective was to compare nutrient and food intakes of multiethnic mothers with children in Head Start from Texas and Alabama. Experimental design consisted of a cross-sectional, secondary data analysis. The sample was 603 mothers(33% Hispanic American from Texas, 19% African American from Texas, 24% African American from Alabama, and 24% white from Alabama) who were interviewed from fall 2004 to spring 2005. Diet quality was evaluated by averaging 24-hour dietary recalls from 3 nonconsecutive days and calculating the percent meeting the Estimated Average Requirement, the Dietary Guidelines for fat and added sugar, and the mean adequacy ratio for eight nutrients. For multiple comparisons, the least square means statement was used for general linear model procedures, adjusted for age, body mass index, and energy intake. The average mean adequacy ratio scores for diet quality were low overall, but only 44% of Hispanic Americans had mean adequacy ratio scores <85, whereas 96 to 97% of other groups did. Most mothers exceeded 35% of energy from fat, with Hispanic Americans having the lowest percentage. Overall, 15% of mothers exceeded 25% of energy from added sugars, with Hispanic Americans having 5% with excess intakes. Energy intakes were highest for Hispanic Americans (2,017 kcal) and lowest for African Americans (1,340 kcal). The Hispanic Americans surveyed averaged 4.6 c fruit and vegetables per day compared to 3.2, 2.3, and 2.9 c/day among African Americans from Texas, African Americans from Alabama, and whites from Alabama, respectively. Despite limited food resources, Hispanic-American mothers consumed adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables. There was considerable variation in diet quality among race/ethnic groups on a low income budget.