More accurate methods are needed to assess the dietary intakes of children and youth, including calorie intakes and expenditures.
Total calorie intake appears to have increased substantially over the past 25 years for preschool children and adolescent boys and girls, with more modest changes for children ages 6–11 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.
Carbohydrate intake has increased substantially among children and youth over approximately the past two decades.
Total fat and saturated fat intakes among children and youth remain at levels that exceed dietary recommendations.
Most preschool children consume added sugars well above suggested limits, and older children and adolescents consume about double the suggested limit of added sugars in their diet.
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.
Over the past decade, most children and youth have not met the daily recommended servings for vegetables, fruits, or whole grains.
Sweetened beverage consumption (e.g., carbonated soft drinks and fruit drinks) by children and adolescents has increased considerably over the past 35 years and is now a leading source of added sugars, especially in adolescents’ diets. The consumption of milk, a major source of dietary calcium, has decreased among children and adolescents over the same period, and most have calcium intakes below the recommended adequate intake level.
Breakfast consumption by children and adolescents has decreased considerably over the past 40 years and the occurrence of breakfast consumption declines with age. The frequency of breakfast consumption is predictive of lower body mass index (BMI) levels in children and adolescents.
The prevalence of snacking and number of snacking occasions by children and youth have increased steadily over the past 25 years. There has been a steady increase in the proportion of calories that children and youth have received from away-from-home foods over the past 20 years. Approximately one-third or more of their calories are derived from foods purchased outside of the home, nearly one-half of which is obtained at restaurants and quick serve restaurants that contain higher fat content than food consumed at home.
Calorie intake by infants and toddlers substantially exceeds their estimated requirements, although validation is needed on the reliability of food intake reporting by parents and caregivers, as well as on body weight estimates.