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Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Sep;96(3):601-12. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.035535. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Race-ethnic, family income, and education differentials in nutritional and lipid biomarkers in US children and adolescents: NHANES 2003-2006.

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  • 1Department of Family, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences, Queens College of the City University of New York, Flushing, NY 11367, USA.



Children from ethnic minority and low-income families in the United States have higher rates of poor health and higher mortality rates. Diet, an acknowledged correlate of health, may mediate the known race-ethnic and socioeconomic differentials in the health of US children.


The objective was to examine the independent association of race-ethnicity, family income, and education with nutritional and lipid biomarkers in US children.


We used data from the NHANES 2003-2006 to examine serum concentrations of vitamins A, D, E, C, B-6, and B-12; serum concentrations of folate, carotenoids, and lipids; and dietary intakes of corresponding nutrients for 2-19-y-old children (n = ~2700-7500). Multiple covariate-adjusted regression methods were used to examine the independent and joint associations of race-ethnicity, family income, and education with biomarker status.


Non-Hispanic blacks had lower mean serum concentrations of vitamins A, B-6, and E and α-carotene than did non-Hispanic whites. Both non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican Americans had higher mean serum vitamin C, β-cryptoxanthin, and lutein + zeaxanthin but lower folate and vitamin D concentrations compared with non-Hispanic whites. In comparison with non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks were less likely to have low serum HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides. Family income and education predicted few biomarker or dietary outcomes, and the observed associations were weak. Moreover, modification of race-ethnic differentials by income or education (or vice versa) was noted for very few biomarkers.


Race-ethnicity, but not family income or education, was a strong independent predictor of serum nutrient concentrations and dietary micronutrient intakes in US children and adolescents.

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