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Method Used to Design and Test Food Patterns for the Meal Requirements As Offered

Nutrient Composites

These spreadsheets primarily use the 2005 MyPyramid nutrient composites (Marcoe et al., 2006) to estimate the energy and nutrient content that would be provided by possible meal patterns for breakfast and lunch.

In developing the spreadsheet, staff modified the nutrient composites and/or food groups as listed below:

  1. The vitamin A content for the milk group is the value for low-fat (vitamin A-fortified) milk rather than whole milk. The original composite used the vitamin A value for whole milk.

  2. Separate rows were added for low-fat cheese and low-fat flavored yogurt. Although cheese and yogurt are part of the milk group in MyPyramid, the nutrient composite reflects the nutrient content of fat-free milk. A further complication was that cheese and yogurt are counted as members of the meat and meat alternates group in current specifications for school meals. Having separate rows in the spreadsheet for these two dairy foods enabled the committee to obtain quick nutrient estimates for a variety of food patterns that include these dairy foods. Of interest was the estimated nutrient content of patterns that involve partial and complete substitution of the dairy foods for foods in the MyPyramid meat and beans group.

Food Pattern Development and Testing

To determine initial breakfast and lunch patterns based on MyPyramid, the method was to multiply the amount for each food group specified by MyPyramid (for each calorie level—1,800, 2,000, and 2,400) by the midpoint of the calorie range for the meal (21.5% for breakfast, 32% for lunch), as shown below in Table H-3.

To account for vegetable subgroups that are specified in MyPyramid on a weekly rather than a daily basis, the subgroup calculated the amounts as cups per 5-day school week at lunch. Because it is uncommon for a majority of U.S. schoolchildren to consume vegetables at breakfast (with a few exceptions, such as hash-brown potatoes), the committee agreed to exclude vegetables from the breakfast patterns that were tested.

The amounts shown in Table H-3 were adjusted up or down if necessary to achieve practical serving amounts. For example, instead of specifying 0.8 cups of vegetable per day, ¾ cup or 1 cup would be specified.

At breakfast, since vegetables had been omitted, the committee tested patterns with and without additional fruit to examine the differences in the content of calories, some vitamins, potassium, and fiber.

Tentative allocations were made for added sugars and saturated fat considering the number of calories remaining (discretionary calories) and the desire to allow for some low-fat (1%) milk and flavored fat-free milk. (The added sugars and/or the fat in flavored low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese are included in the composites for those foods.) These allocations were made for test purposes only. They were not intended to be part of the food pattern.

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