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Assessing the Diet Quality of US Children

Am J Clin Nutrit; ePub 2018 Dec 29; Thomson, et al

The diet quality of US children remains low, with continued disparities across some socioeconomic populations, a recent study found. Researchers used 3 cycles of NHANES dietary data sets (2009‒2010, 2011‒2012, and 2013‒2014) to calculate Healthy Eating Index 2015 (HEI-2015) total and component scores by use of the population ratio method for children aged 2‒18 years (n=9,000). Diet-quality scores were computed overall and by age (2‒5, 6‒11, and 12‒18 years), gender, race or ethnicity, and family poverty-to-income ratio. They found:

  • The HEI-2015 total mean score for children overall was 54.9.
  • As the age group increased, the total scores decreased, with the total mean score significantly higher for children in the youngest group vs the 2 older age groups.
  • The total mean score was significantly lower for non-Hispanic black children compared with Mexican American children, other Hispanic children, and children of other races.
  • The total mean score was significantly lower for non-Hispanic white children vs Mexican-American children.
  • Notable differences in the total mean scores occurred within age and race or ethnicity classes.


Thomson JL, Tussing-Humphreys LM, Goodman MH, Landry AS. Diet quality in a nationally representative sample of American children by sociodemographic characteristics. [Published online ahead of print December 29, 2018]. Am J Clin Nutrit. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqy284.