Fruit and Vegetable Intakes and Body Mass Index of Primarily Low-Income African American Children Living in Rural Alabama
Type of DegreeThesis
DepartmentNutrition and Food Science
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Fruit and vegetable intakes among primarily low-income African American elementary school-aged children living in three rural counties in Alabama were examined. Data were collected from 253 children in the fall 2002 and 310 children in the spring 2003. In the fall, 49.8% of the children were classified with a normal BMI, 16.2% were classified as at risk, and 34.0% were classified as overweight using CDC growth charts and classification guidelines. In the spring, 51.6% were classified with a normal BMI, 16.5% were classified as at risk, and 31.9% were classified as overweight using CDC growth charts and classification guidelines. In the fall, servings of fruits differed significantly between the at risk and overweight children, with the overweight children consuming significantly morefruits than the at risk. Fruit intake did not differ significantly among groups in the spring, however. Fruit intake averaged about one and one quarter servings per day with only 23% of children meeting minimum recommended intakes. About 7% of the children failed to consume any fruits. No significant differences were found among groups for servings of vegetables consumed in the fall or spring. Vegetable intake averaged about one and one quarter servings per day. About 9% of children met the minimum recommendations for vegetable intake; about 5% of the children failed to consume any vegetables. No significant correlations were found between change in servings of vegetables and change in BMI or weight from fall to spring or between change in serving of fruits and change in BMI or weight from fall to spring. Folate intake as a percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) was below recommendations at 80% for all children. Intakes of potassium were also below the adequate intake at 46%. Intakes of vitamin C exceeded the RDA at 291%. The percent of children not ingesting two-thirds of intake recommendations for folate was 46%, for potassium was 80%, and for vitamin C was 21%. The at risk children had significantly lower potassium intake than the normal and overweight children in the fall but not spring. The at risk children consumed significantly less folate than the overweight children in the fall. No significant correlations were found between BMI and intakes of potassium, vitamin C, folate and beta carotene. Children consumed about 28% of energy from sugars. Significant negative correlations were found between servings of fruit and percent of energy as sweets and percent of energy as fat. These findings suggest that this population is not consuming adequate daily servings of fruits and vegetables nor adequate recommended amounts of folate and potassium.