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Average Daily Calorie Intake Drops in US Children but This May Not Be Good News

Calorie intake decreased but saturated fat intake increased….

American children and teens are eating fewer calories and carbohydrates but more protein and saturated fat according to a new report by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

  • American children and teens consumed one third of their calories from fat.
  • Calorie intake decreased within all ethnic groups.
  • Saturated fat percentages were higher then the recommended percentage in the Dietary Guidelines.

Researchers looked at data from 1999 to 2010 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for boys and girls aged 2 to 19 years old who where white, black, or Mexican American.

Data from NHANES showed that calorie intake decreased from 2258 to 2100 calories among boys and from 1831 calories to 1755 among girls. Protein intake increased from 13.5% to 14.7% of calories for boys and 13.4% to 14.3% of calories for girls. In contrast, carbohydrate intake decreased from 55% to 54.3% of calories for boys and 55.8% to 54.5% for girls. Carbohydrate intake did not decrease among black girls or Mexican American boys or girls.

The study shows most concern in the calories consumed from fat. Children and teens derived one third of their calories from fat. On average, they consumed between 11 to 12% of calories from saturated fat, which is above the 10% recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

R. Bethene Ervin, PhD, RD, and Cynthia L. Ogden, PhD, MRP. "Trends in Intake of Energy and Macronutrients in Children and Adolescents From 1999-2000 Through 2009-2010". NCHS Data Brief: No. 113, February 2013.