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Quality of American School-Age Children by School Lunch Participation Status (USDA/FNS, 2008c), hereafter called the 2008 Diet Quality Report, and (2) the third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment study (SNDA-III) (USDA/FNS, 2007a). Both studies present data from nationally representative samples.

The committee recognizes the imprecise nature of dietary intake data and notes that the available data do not take into account contributions from dietary supplements. Because such data may not be reflective of the nutritional status of individuals (IOM, 2008), the committee views the findings as general information about food group and nutrient intakes that are likely to be of concern rather than as strong evidence of definitive problems. When terms such as “the prevalence of inadequacy” are used in reference to reported dietary intakes, the qualifiers “apparent” or “estimated” usually have been omitted for ease of reading. To broaden its perspective on schoolchildren’s diets, the committee also considered selected aspects of health as related to dietary intake.


Assessment Method

To assess the food group intakes of schoolchildren, the committee relied on information based on the MyPyramid food guidance system (USDA, 2008). MyPyramid provides specific food-based dietary guidance that is consistent with the recommendations in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It does this by specifying food patterns for 12 calorie levels that range from 1,000 to 3,200 calories per day. To evaluate how well school-aged children’s food group intakes followed Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the committee compared the children’s mean food group intakes for one day with MyPyramid food patterns for three calorie levels as follows:

  • 1,600 calories for children ages 5–8 years,

  • 2,000 calories for children ages 9–13 years, and

  • 2,400 calories for youth ages 14–18 years.

The committee recognizes two important limitations of these data:

  1. The calorie levels and age ranges do not exactly match those determined by the committee to be most suitable for developing the Nutrient Targets and Meal Requirements. Because the committee was unable to obtain food group intake data for the 1,800 calorie level (the level selected for children ages 5 through 10 years), it used the data for the 1,600 calorie level from the 2008 Diet Quality Report instead.

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