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J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Nov;105(11):1765-73.

Dietary patterns of young, low-income US children.

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  • 1Human Nutrition and Hospitality Management, The University of Alabama, 206 Doster Hall, Box 870158, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0158, USA.



The purpose of this study was to identify dietary patterns of young, low-income US children, describe differences in diet quality between identified patterns, and make targeted food recommendations to improve diet quality.


Dietary patterns were assessed using dietary variables from the Pyramid Servings Database within the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals 1994-1996, 1998. Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores were used to validate identified dietary patterns.


Two subsamples of low-income children, aged 2 to 3 years (n = 1,242) and 4 to 8 years (n = 1,506), were selected from the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals data.


Cluster analysis was performed to determine unique dietary patterns within the two subsamples. Linear regression analyses were used to compare energy intake, discretionary fat, added sugars, and HEI scores across cluster groups. Descriptive statistics were computed for each cluster.


Cluster analysis identified six and seven distinct dietary patterns for the younger and older children, respectively. Four patterns were similar for both age groups. For the 2- to 3-year-old children, energy intake, overall HEI scores, and nine of the 10 HEI component scores differed among the four most prevalent dietary patterns. Among the older children, energy intake and six of the HEI component scores differed between the four most prevalent clusters but not overall HEI.


Neither age group had a cluster of children who followed a balanced/moderate diet pattern consistent with Food Guide Pyramid recommendations. Children consuming almost every pattern identified could benefit by reducing added sugars and discretionary fat and increasing low-fat, low-sugar options from the vegetables, fruits, meat, and milk groups.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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