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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Food Surveys Research Group » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #324056

Title: Sandwich consumption by adults in the U.S., What We Eat in America, NHANES 2009-2012

item Sebastian, Rhonda
item Enns, Cecilia
item Goldman, Joseph
item Hoy, M Katherine
item Moshfegh, Alanna

Submitted to: Worldwide Web Site: Food Surveys Research Group
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/3/2015
Publication Date: 12/16/2015
Citation: Sebastian, R.S., Enns, C.W., Goldman, J.D., Hoy, M.K., Moshfegh, A.J. 2015. Sandwich consumption by adults in the U.S., What We Eat in America, NHANES 2009-2012. Worldwide Web Site: Food Surveys Research Group. Available:

Interpretive Summary: Though sandwiches are a mainstay of the American diet, until recently there were few published reports about sandwich intakes in the U.S. Using data from What We Eat in America (WWEIA), the dietary interview component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-2012, we examined the consumption of sandwiches and their contributions to energy, nutrient, and food group/component intakes in the U.S. We found that nearly one-half (47%) of adults age 20 years and older ate a sandwich on the intake day, and a larger percentage of men (52%) than of women (43%) ate sandwiches. The types of sandwich most commonly consumed by adults were cold cut sandwiches, burgers, poultry sandwiches, and hotdogs/sausages. Nearly one-half of adults’ sandwiches were eaten at lunch, and the type of sandwich most commonly consumed varied by eating occasion. The most common source from which sandwiches or their ingredients were obtained was a store. Adults who ate a sandwich on the intake day consumed more energy than those who did not. Sandwiches provided 12% of overall energy intake, lower proportions of most underconsumed nutrients, and higher proportions of the overconsumed nutrients saturated fat and sodium. Among MyPlate food group/component contributions from sandwiches, the highest (59%) was for cured meat, a group that is targeted for reduction. Though sandwiches accounted for similar proportions of intake of refined and whole grains, total refined grain consumption from all foods was more than five times that of whole grains. This new information about sandwich consumption can inform food manufacturers, restaurants, dietitians, nutritionists, and consumers about the prominent role that sandwiches play in the diets of U.S. adults.

Technical Abstract: Although sandwiches are a staple of the American diet, little is known about their consumption and their contributions to dietary intakes of energy, nutrients, and food components. In this report, the definition of “sandwich” includes not only sandwiches represented in the dietary data by a single food code (these were often fast-food items, such as “Cheeseburger with tomato and/or catsup, on bun”) but also those represented by two or more food codes that were linked and identified as a “sandwich combination” (for example, bread, bacon, tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise). One day of dietary intake data from 10,563 adults age 20 years and over in What We Eat in America, NHANES 2009-2012 (the most recent nationwide dietary intake data available) was analyzed. Two-sided t-tests were used to compare percentages of men and women reporting sandwiches and total energy intake by gender and sandwich reporting status (reporter/non-reporter). On any given day, 47% of American adults ate sandwiches. A significantly higher percentage of men than women reported sandwiches (52 vs. 43%, respectively; p<0.001). Compared to individuals who did not report a sandwich on the intake day (non-reporters), sandwich reporters had significantly higher energy intakes; on average, this difference was 268 kilocalories for men and 164 kilocalories for women. Sandwiches contributed 12% of adults’ total intake of energy and higher percentages of calcium, iron, saturated fat/solid fats, sodium, protein foods (especially cured meat), cheese, grains, and oils. Because sandwiches provide such high proportions of overall intakes, modifying the frequency of consumption, portion size, and/or ingredients of sandwiches could lead to meaningful improvements in intakes of energy, sodium, saturated fat, and other nutrients and dietary components.