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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Aug;57(8):930-9.

Spanish children's diet: compliance with nutrient and food intake guidelines.

Author information

  • 1Carlos III Institute of Public Health, Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo, Madrid, Spain. mroyo@isciii.es



To compare the diet of Spanish children against the nutrient and food intake guidelines. To calculate an index of overall diet quality and check its validity against nutrient intake.


Cross-sectional study in four cities in Spain, where information on food and nutrient intake was obtained from schoolchildren through a food frequency questionnaire.


The sample included 1112 children (overall response rate of 85%) attending public and private schools and aged 6-7 y. Children were selected through random cluster sampling in schools, and stratified by sex and socioeconomic level.


Mean nutrient intake, number of food servings, and the percentage of children who meet recommended nutrient and food-serving intake levels. The overall dietary quality was assessed using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI).


Mean micronutrient intake exceeded 100% of the recommended dietary allowances, except for vitamin B6, which registered a mean intake of 77.1%. For almost all children, intake of saturated fat was above, and that of carbohydrate below, the recommended level, in contrast to the relatively high compliance with the recommendations for poly- and monounsaturated fatty acid, salt and fiber intake (69.7, 43.7, 40.7, and 30.1%, respectively). Consumption of food servings for each of the five American pyramid food groups came close to or exceeded USDA guidelines, with the exception of cereals, with 5.4 servings per day. The mean score obtained in the HEI was 64.6. Children who complied with all the food guide pyramid recommendations registered a higher dietary variety and a healthier nutritional profile.


Children aged 6-7 y show scant compliance with the macronutrient goals for healthy eating. Micronutrient intake is adequate in general, yet there are small groups of children with risk of deficient intake of vitamins B6 and D. While Spanish children's eating habits are reasonably in line with American food guide pyramid guidelines, consumptions of cereals and fruit should be improved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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