Diet quality varies by race/ethnicity of Head Start mothers

Sharon L Hoerr, Eugenia Tsuei, Yan Liu, Frank A Franklin, Theresa A Nicklas
Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2008, 108 (4): 651-9

BACKGROUND: Despite the key role that women from limited income families play as family food providers and their high risk for diet-related chronic diseases, there is a paucity of data about their diet quality and how it might vary by race/ethnicity.

OBJECTIVE: To compare nutrient and food intakes of multiethnic mothers with children in Head Start from Texas and Alabama.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional, secondary data analysis.

METHODS: The sample was 603 mothers, 33% Hispanic American from Texas; 19% African American from Texas; 24% African American from Alabama; and 24% white from Alabama who were interviewed from fall 2004 to spring 2005. Diet quality was evaluated by averaging 24-hour dietary recalls from 3 nonconsecutive days and calculating the percent meeting the Estimated Average Requirement, the Dietary Guidelines for fat and added sugar, and the mean adequacy ratio for eight nutrients. For multiple comparisons, the least square means statement was used for general linear model procedures, adjusted for age, body mass index, and energy intake.

RESULTS: The average mean adequacy ratio scores for diet quality were low overall, but 44% of Hispanic Americans had mean adequacy ratio scores <85, whereas 96% to 97% of other groups did. Most mothers exceeded 35% of energy from fat, with Hispanic Americans having the lowest percentage. Overall, 15% of mothers exceeded 25% of energy from added sugars, with Hispanic Americans having 5% with excess intakes. Energy intakes were highest for Hispanic Americans (2,017 kcal) and lowest for African Americans (1,340 kcal). The Hispanic Americans surveyed averaged 4.6 c fruit and vegetables per day compared to 3.2, 2.3, and 2.9 c/day among African Americans from Texas, African Americans from Alabama, and whites from Alabama, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite limited food resources, Hispanic-American mothers consumed adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables. There was considerable variation in diet quality among race/ethnic groups on a low income budget.

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