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J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Sep;110(9):1340-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.06.005.

Dietary intake patterns of low-income urban african-american adolescents.

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Center for Human Nutrition, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Unhealthy eating increases risks for chronic disease. Few studies have examined the multifaceted aspects of dietary intake of low-income, urban African-American adolescents. This study aimed to describe dietary patterns including energy, nutrients, food groups, and diet quality and to identify areas to guide future interventions. Baseline data for a school-based obesity prevention study were collected from 382 African-American adolescents (10- to 14-year-olds) from four Chicago, IL, public schools in 2003. Diet was assessed using a 152-item food frequency questionnaire. Diet quality was measured using a modified version of the US Department of Agriculture Healthy Eating Index (HEI) and compared to published estimates for a nationwide sample. Participants reported high energy intakes and several unhealthy eating patterns: 58.6% consumed one or more servings of sweetened beverages per day and 15.7% consumed three or more servings per day; average fried food consumption was high (1.4 servings/day), 58.4% consumed one or more serving per day; and 75% consumed three or more three snacks per day. Only 49% of participants met the recommended three servings of dairy foods per day. Compared to a national, mostly white sample, participants had lower HEI scores (P<0.05); mean score was 66.0+/-12.8 (100=maximum HEI score) vs 70.3+/-13.0 in boys vs girls, one third had scores <60 ("needs improvement") and only 15% scored >80 ("good"). This study reveals key areas of problematic dietary patterns for future interventions targeting low-income African-American adolescents, including frequent intakes of calorie-dense, low nutrient-rich foods, such as fried foods, snacks, and sweetened beverages.

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