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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Predictors of calcium intake at dinner meals of ethnically diverse mother-child dyads from families with limited income

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

Submitted to: Journal Of The American Dietetic Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/6/2009
Publication Date: 10/6/2009
Citation: Hoerr, S., Nicklas, T., Franklin, F., Liu, Y. 2009. Predictors of calcium intake at dinner meals of ethnically diverse mother-child dyads from families with limited income. Journal Of The American Dietetic Association. 109(10):1744-1750.

Interpretive Summary: The consistently higher frequency of sweetened beverages at dinners compared to those for milk should be a concern for both mothers and their preschool children. This is due to an association of sweetened beverages as dietary risks for osteoporosis, obesity, and tooth decay. The fact that children drank more milk at dinner and more children than mothers drank milk, could be due to the mothers’ concern for their child’s diet quality. If so, food and nutrition professionals could use concern to promote adequate calcium intake of children and mothers at all meals. Implications are that food and nutrition professionals should counsel parents on the importance of low-fat dairy foods, and calcium-fortified dairy foods, and fruit juices as appropriate to obtain adequate intakes of calcium. Replacing sweetened beverages at dinner meals with low-fat milk or calcium-fortified beverages would be a strategy to improve the nutrient density of diets for families with limited incomes.

Technical Abstract: Diets adequate in calcium and other key nutrients early in life are critical for optimal growth. This study’s objective was to determine associations between beverage and dairy food intakes of mothers and their children, and food/beverage contributions to calcium at dinner meals from ethnically diverse families with limited incomes. This was a secondary analysis of dietary data on mother-child dyads from a cross-sectional study. The sample was 465 children (4.4 +/- 0.6 years) and their mothers, 41% African American, 34% Hispanic, and 21% white. Dietary and anthropometric data were collected in 52 Head Start centers in Alabama and Texas, during 1 year starting fall 2004. Associations between mother-child intakes were examined by race/ethnicity using correlations. Calcium intake from dinners was predicted (stepwise regression) from four beverage categories – milk, sweetened beverages, 100% fruit juices, and non-energy-containing beverages plus water, and from cheese and dairy desserts. Overall, the mother’s dinner-time intake of milk did not predict that of her child. Mother-child intakes of cheese, dairy desserts, and sweetened beverages correlated more strongly than did milk. All the beverages and dairy groups demonstrated moderate correlations for dyads with those for cheese (r=0.56), dairy desserts (r=0.39), fruit juice (r=0.36), and sweetened beverages (r=0.3) higher than that for milk overall (r=0.29, P less than 0.01). Milk and cheese predicted that most variance in calcium intake for both mothers and children overall (R2=0.82), and for all race-ethnic groups, except African-American children, where the contribution from cheese predominated. Food and nutrition professionals should encourage replacing sweet beverages at dinner and low-fat milk or calcium-fortified beverages to improve the nutrient density of meals.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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