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J Am Diet Assoc. 1998 Apr;98(4):426-33.

Assessment of energy intake underreporting by doubly labeled water and observations on reported nutrient intakes in children.

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Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70808-4124, USA.



To compare reported energy intake with energy expenditure using doubly labeled water (DLW). Additionally, we compared reported nutrient intakes of our subject population with national survey population data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).


This was a cross-sectional study of children, balanced by race and gender, primarily characterized by 4 body types: lean, obese, centrally fat, or peripherally fat.


Children (n=118; mean age=10 years) kept 8-day food records, with nutritionists recording weekday school lunch intakes. These subjects, assisted by their parents, recorded all breakfasts, dinners, snacks, and weekend lunches.


Data were analyzed using least squares analysis of variance with the general linear models procedure. Tukey's test was used for multiple comparisons of predicted treatment means.


Mean daily energy intake was underreported by 17% to 33% of energy expenditure. The tendency to underreport increased with age. Underreporting occurred in all groups and subgroups studied. Reported mean intakes of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B-6, calcium, zinc, and copper were less than 70% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for African-American girls, whereas African-American boys reported similarly low intakes of copper. On average, white girls reported intakes less than 70% of the RDA for zinc and copper, whereas white boys reported low intakes of copper (60% of the RDA). Reported intakes in general were somewhat lower than those reported in NHANES III.


Dietetics professionals may modify the nutritional advice they give to patients/subjects based on food intake records and other data. For children, particularly, it is imperative that ethnic and gender differences be taken into consideration and that all foods eaten be accounted for as much as possible.

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