US adolescents and MyPyramid: associations between fast-food consumption and lower likelihood of meeting recommendations

Rhonda S Sebastian, Cecilia Wilkinson Enns, Joseph D Goldman
Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2009, 109 (2): 226-35

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether fast-food consumption is associated with adolescents' food group intakes and likelihood of meeting recommendations outlined in the MyPyramid Food Guidance System.

DESIGN: Data from two 24-hour recalls collected in What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004 were analyzed. Fast-food consumers were divided into tertiles based on the proportion of 2-day energy intake derived from fast food.

SUBJECTS: Adolescent boys and nonpregnant girls aged 12 to 19 years (n=1,956).

STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: All statistical analyses included sample weights to account for the survey design. Regression analyses were used to detect associations between fast-food consumption and both food group intakes and percentages of individuals meeting MyPyramid recommendations, and to predict odds of meeting recommendations by fast-food consumption level.

RESULTS: Fast-food consumption was associated negatively with MyPyramid fruit and milk group intakes (boys and girls) and positively with discretionary energy and solid fats (girls only). Negative associations were also found between fast-food consumption and percentages of adolescents meeting recommendations for milk (boys), fruits (girls), and vegetables and discretionary energy (boys and girls). Compared with those consuming no fast food, adolescents in the highest tertile of energy from fast food were less likely to meet recommendations for vegetables (odds ratio [OR]=0.16, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.05 to 0.52 for boys; OR=0.18, 95% CI: 0.04 to 0.79 for girls) and discretionary energy (OR=0.41, 95% CI: 0.22 to 0.77 for boys; OR=0.04, 95% CI: 0.01 to 0.24 for girls). No relationships were found between fast-food consumption and grains, meat/beans, and oils.

CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents' intakes, whether containing fast food or not, need improvement. Fast food is one factor that impacts adolescents' intake of MyPyramid groups and their likelihood of meeting recommendations. Awareness of fast-food's role in discrepancies between adolescent intakes and MyPyramid recommendations can aid professionals in designing effective strategies to improve adolescents' diets.

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