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Usual Dietary Intakes: Food Intakes, US Population, 2007-10

We have applied the NCI Method for estimating distributions of usual intake to data from two recent cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative sample, to estimate means and percentiles of the distributions of food intake (Tables A1-44) and the percentage of persons meeting recommendations (Tables B1-17) for a range of sex-age groups in the US population.

Methods

Dietary data were obtained from the 2007-10 NHANES. The data were collected via two 24-hour recalls from 18,117 persons 1 year of age and older. Further information regarding the design and methodology used in the 2007-10 NHANES is available on the National Center for Health Statistics Web site.

Intakes reported on the recalls were translated into quantities from each of the food groups of interest using the Food Patterns Equivalents Databases 2007-08 and 2009-10, which were developed for the corresponding surveys.

The NCI Method of estimating usual dietary intake distributions was used. This method uses either a one- or two-part model, depending on whether the food in question is consumed daily by almost everyone. When a two-part model is used, the person-specific effects may be correlated. In this analysis, if less than 5% of the population had zero intakes of a food, an amount-only model was used. If more than 10% of the population had zero intakes of a food, a two-part model was used, and this model was correlated when applicable. Choosing a correlated model over an uncorrelated model was controlled using a false discovery rate procedure to ensure that correlated models were used only when strong evidence of a significant correlation was found. If between 5% and 10% of the population had zero intakes of a food, both models were fit to the data, and the best-fitting model was selected; in two out of three of these borderline cases, the two-part model fit best.

Dietary recalls tend to be different depending on whether they are the first or second report from an individual and whether the reported day was a weekday or weekend. In this analysis, means and percentiles of the intake distributions were modeled for each food, correcting for sequence and weekend/weekday effects and based on sex/age group. Analyses were conducted for the entire population and for numerous sex-age groups.

Recommendations for food group intake vary by energy level, which in turn varies by sex, age, and activity level. To estimate the percentage of persons meeting food group recommendations by sex and age, we linked the estimated energy needs per day by age, gender, and physical activity level (PDF) with the recommended daily intake amounts of each food or subgroup at the corresponding calorie levels in the USDA Food Patterns (PDF). This resulted in a range of recommendations for each sex-age group, the lower end corresponding to the lowest energy intake (associated with being sedentary) and the upper end corresponding to the highest energy intake (associated with being very active). In Table Set B, the percent with intakes meeting the recommendation represent those with intakes within this range of recommendations, whereas the percent with intakes below the recommendation indicate those below the minimum and the percent with intakes above the recommendation indicate those above the maximum recommended amount.

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Results

Results from the NCI Method using 2007-10 NHANES data are presented in the tables below.

A. The following 44 tables provide the mean, standard error of the mean, percentiles of the distribution and standard errors of the percentiles of intake for each food group, by sex/age group. These tables represent each of the main food groups and subgroups of the USDA food patterns, as well as several other food groups and dietary constituents of interest.

  1. Total fruit
  2. Total whole fruit
  3. Citrus, melon, berries
  4. Other fruits
  5. Fruit juice
  6. Total vegetables including beans and peas
  7. Total vegetables excluding beans and peas
  8. Dark-green vegetables
  9. Total red and orange vegetables
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Other red and orange vegetables, excluding tomatoes
  12. Total starchy vegetables
  13. White potatoes
  14. Other starchy vegetables, excluding white potatoes
  15. Other vegetables
  16. Beans and peas (legumes) (in cup equivalents)
  17. Total grains
  18. Whole grains
  19. Refined grains
  20. Total protein foods including beans and peas
  21. Total protein foods excluding beans and peas
  22. Total meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs
  23. Total meat, poultry, and seafood
  24. Meat
  25. Cured meat
  26. Poultry
  27. Total seafood
  28. Eggs
  29. Total soy, nuts and seeds and legumes
  30. Soy products
  31. Nuts and seeds
  32. Beans and peas (legumes) (in ounce equivalents)
  33. Total dairy
  34. Milk
  35. Yogurt
  36. Cheese
  37. Oils
  38. Solid fats
  39. Energy from solid fats
  40. Added sugars
  41. Energy from added sugars
  42. Energy from solid fats and added sugars
  43. Alcoholic drinks
  44. Energy

B. The following 17 tables provide the mean, standard error of the mean, and the percentage of persons below, at or above recommended intakes for a given sex/age group and the standard errors of those percentages. These tables include the main food groups and subgroups of the USDA food patterns for which there are recommendations.

  1. Total fruit
  2. Total vegetables including beans and peas
  3. Dark-green vegetables
  4. Total red and orange vegetables
  5. Beans and peas (legumes)
  6. Total starchy vegetables
  7. Other vegetables
  8. Total grains
  9. Whole grains
  10. Refined grains
  11. Total protein foods excluding beans and peas
  12. Total seafood
  13. Total meat, poultry and eggs
  14. Nuts, seeds, and soy products
  15. Total dairy
  16. Oils
  17. Energy from solid fats and added sugars

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Selected Findings

USDA food pattern recommendations for each food group vary depending on a personís energy requirement, which in turn is influenced by sex, age and activity level. The lowest recommendations are generally for very young, inactive children, whereas the higher recommendations are generally for very active teenage and young adult males.

  • Recommendations for fruit intake range from 1 to 2.5 cups per day. Twenty-five percent of the population consumed less than half a cup per day (Table A1). Mean intakes were just over 1 cup equivalent per day, and 75 percent of the population had intakes below the minimum recommendation for their sex-age group (Table B1). Among all children ages 1-18, 60 percent had usual intakes below their recommended level (data not shown).
  • Recommendations for vegetables range from 1 to 4 cups per day. The usual intake at the 75th percentile was 2 cups per day, for the entire population (Table A6). Eighty-seven percent of the total population had a usual intake below the minimum recommendation for their sex-age group, with percentages running even higher for adolescents and young adults (Table B2). Ninety-three percent of all children (ages 1-18) consumed fewer vegetables than recommended (data not shown).
  • Usual intakes of whole grains range from 0.1 oz equivalents at the 5th percentile to 2.2 oz equivalents at the 95th percentile (Table A18), and recommendations range from 1.5 to 5 ounce equivalents per day. Virtually the entire population (98.9 percent) consumed less than the minimum recommended amount for their sex-age group (Table B9).
  • The recommendations for dairy fall in a narrow range, 2 to 3 cup equivalents, and the recommendation is 3 cups for most sex-age groups, regardless of activity level. Not surprisingly, only two percent of the population met the recommendation exactly (Table B15). However, although 11 percent of the population exceeded the recommendation, 86 percent fell short. Males were more likely than females to exceed the recommendation, at every age group.
  • Recommendations for protein foods range from 2 to 7 ounce equivalents per day, and intakes from the 5th to about the 75th percentile were squarely in that range, among the whole population (Table A21). Forty-two percent of the population had intakes below the minimum recommendation for their sex-age group, 26 percent had intakes between the minimum and maximum recommendation, and 32 percent had intakes above the maximum (Table B11).

USDA food patterns do not provide separate intake recommendations for solid fat and added sugars per se, but rather a maximum SoFAS (solid fat and added sugars) limit, in terms of calories. This allowance is small, ranging from 137 kilocalories per day (for persons whose total energy intake is only 1000 kcal) to 596 kilocalories per day (for persons whose total energy intake is 3200 kcal or greater).

  • The average usual intake of energy from solid fats and added sugars was 594 kcal, and half the population had a usual intake of about 550 kcal or greater (Table A42). Twelve percent of the population had intakes between the minimum and maximum recommendations for their sex-age group, but 86 percent exceeded the maximum (Table B17).

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Acknowledgements

The following individuals represent the team who produced this analysis:

  • Dave Castenson1
  • Kevin W. Dodd2
  • Susan M. Krebs-Smith2
  • Ruth Parsons1
  • Jill Reedy2

1 Information Management Services, Inc.
2 National Cancer Institute.

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Suggested Citation

Suggested citation for information contained on this page:

Usual Dietary Intakes: Food Intakes, US Population, 2007-10. Applied Research Program Web site. National Cancer Institute. http://appliedresearch.cancer.gov/diet/usualintakes/pop/2007-10/. Updated May 22, 2014. Accessed November 23, 2014.

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Last Modified: 22 May 2014