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Collection and Analysis of Dietary Recall Data

SNDA-III dietary recalls were collected by using a modified version of the Automated Multiple Pass Method software (version 2.3, 2003, Agricultural Research Service, Food Surveys Research Group, Beltsville, MD), which has been used to collect data for the for National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) since 2003. Children in middle and high schools were interviewed in the morning and reported the previous day’s intake (from midnight to midnight). Because young children tend to have difficulty recalling their intakes, interviews with young children were completed in two parts and with parental assistance. These children were first interviewed during the school day, after lunch if possible, and were asked to report everything that they had consumed that day since awakening. They were then interviewed a second time to report their intakes for the rest of the 24-hour period. The second interviews were conducted on the next day, if possible, and were conducted no more than 48 hours after the first interview. Parents attended the second in-person interviews and were asked to help their children recall and describe the foods and beverages consumed.

The SurveyNet coding system (version 3.14, 2004, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA], Beltsville, MD) was used to link each item reported in the 24-hour recalls to the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS; version 1.0, 2004, Agricultural Research Service, Food Surveys Research Group, Beltsville, MD). Subsequently, for foods and beverages that were obtained at school from reimbursable meal sources and that were reported on school menus, FNDDS nutrient values were replaced with nutrient values from the analysis of the school menus (USDA, 2007a). This step ensured that foods provided as part of the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program were represented in the analysis as accurately as possible. For example, rather than hamburgers or cheese pizzas obtained at school being consistently represented by the default values available in the nutrient database, the nutrient value of the hamburgers and pizzas actually served in each child’s school were used. Thus, if a school purchased extra-lean hamburger patties or pizzas made with less or low-fat cheese, this was reflected in the 24-hour recall data.


All tabulations for the Diet Quality of American School-Age Children by School Lunch Participation Status (referred to as the 2008 Diet Quality Report) are based on data from NHANES 1999–2004, analyzed alone or in conjunction with data from the MyPyramid Equivalents Database.

NHANES is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NHANES has been conducted on a periodic basis since 1971. Beginning in 1999, NHANES has been a continuous annual survey and data are released in public data files every 2 years (e.g., 1999–2000, 2001–2002, and 2003–2004). NCHS recommends that data from two or more 2-year cycles of the continuous NHANES be combined to increase the sample size and produce estimates with greater statistical reliabilities. Most of the tabulations presented in this report are based on three 2-year cycles of NHANES data (1999–2004) and are based on data from the following NHANES data files:

  • Body Measures (BMX);

  • Demographics (DEMO);

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