BOX 1-1
Trends in U.S. Children’s and Adolescents’ Nutrient Intakes and Eating Patterns, 1970s to 2004

  • Children and youth are in energy imbalance as reflected by an aggregate calorie intake that has increased significantly for both younger children and adolescents, with modest increases also experienced among older children ages 6–11 years.

  • Calorie intake by infants and toddlers substantially exceeds their estimated requirements.

  • Carbohydrate intake has increased over the past 25 years among children and youth.

  • Infants and toddlers are consuming diets disproportionately high in sweetened foods and beverages and fried potatoes, and disproportionately low in green leafy vegetables.

  • Added sugars consumed by younger children are well above recommended levels, and older children and adolescents are consuming about double the recommended amounts of added sugars in their diets.

  • Sweetened beverage consumption by children and youth has steadily increased over the past 35 years, and now represents a major source of calories and added sugars.

  • Consumption of milk by children and youth, a major source of dietary calcium, has declined over the past 35 years, and most have lower calcium intakes than recommended.

  • Total fat and saturated fats consumed by children and youth remain at levels that exceed dietary recommendations.

  • Mean sodium intake of children and youth has increased over the past 35 years, and the majority of children and adolescents are consuming sodium in greater amounts than recommended levels.

  • Consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains falls short of the daily recommended servings for most children and youth.

  • Snacking by children and youth has increased steadily over the past 25 years.

  • Children and youth consume a large proportion of their total calories from foods and beverages that are of high-calorie and low-nutrient content.

  • Foods consumed outside of the home have steadily increased and now represent about a third of the daily calories consumed by children and youth.

Creating an environment in which children and youth can grow up healthy should be a high priority for the nation. Health is more than the absence of physical or mental illness—it also is the extent to which children and youth have the capacity to reach their full potential (NRC and IOM, 2004). Many factors affect children’s and youths’ dietary patterns and

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