Differences in Dietary Intake and Meal Patterns in U.S. Children by Food Security Status

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Research Projects

Organizational Units

Journal Issue


Information about differences in dietary intakes and daily meal patterns by household food security status in US children ages 2 to 18 years old is valuable for developing adequate nutrition interventions. Using 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrient Examination Survey (NHANES) data (n=7,265) significant differences were found in breakfast and snack consumption by household food security status. Children in fully food secure households were least likely to miss breakfast (15.4%), and their food choices were higher in fiber and contributed more nutrients when compared to children in food insecure households. On the other hand, children in food insecure households with hunger showed the highest risk of missing breakfast (25.5%). Furthermore, their food choices for breakfast were marked by higher consumption of saturated fat and meat products. Children in food insecure households with hunger and marginally food insecure households were less likely to miss snack. Accordingly, among children in food insecure households with hunger the highest contribution to energy intake (31.7%) came from the snack. Added sugar alone contributed 48.4% of carbohydrates intake and 32.6% of energy intake during snack. However, there was no difference in the consumption of added sugar by household food security status. Meanwhile, children in marginally food insecure households had the highest total fat consumption and potato intake for snack when compared to those in fully food secure households. In conclusion, the findings of this study show the need of nutrition interventions that take into account the household food security status of US children.



household food security, U.S. children, meal patterns, hunger, dietary intake