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Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Nov;72(5 Suppl):1343S-1353S.

Energy and fat intakes of children and adolescents in the united states: data from the national health and nutrition examination surveys.

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  • 1Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-7344, USA.



Dietary factors related to body weight and chronic disease risk are of interest because of recent increases in the prevalence of overweight.


Secular trends in energy and fat intakes of youths aged 2-19 y were assessed. Current intakes were compared with recommendations.


Dietary 24-h recall data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994) and earlier national surveys were examined.


Mean energy intake changed little from the 1970s to 1988-1994 except for an increase among adolescent females. Over the same time period, the mean percentage of energy from total and saturated fat decreased, but remained above recommendations, with overall means of 33.5% of energy from fat and 12.2% of energy from saturated fat. In 1988-1994, approximately 1 in 4 youths met the recommendations for intakes of fat and saturated fat and 3 in 4 met the recommendation for cholesterol intake. Beverages contributed 20-24% of energy across all ages and soft drinks provided 8% of energy in adolescents. Except for adolescent girls, beverage energy contributions were generally higher among overweight than nonoverweight youths; soft drink energy contribution was higher among overweight youths than among nonoverweight youths for all groups.


The lack of evidence of a general increase in energy intake among youths despite an increase in the prevalence of overweight suggests that physical inactivity is a major public health challenge in this age group. Efforts to increase physical activity and decrease nonnutritive sources of energy may be important approaches to counter the rise in overweight prevalence.

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