Differences in Food Consumption and Meal Patterns in Texas School Children by Grade
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Differences in Food Consumption and Meal Patterns in Texas School Children by Grade

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      Having information about dietary patterns at different ages and stages in children's physical development is important in developing nutritional interventions. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in food choices between 4th-, 8th-, and 11th-grade students. The results provide information that can be used to tailor behavioral-based nutritional programs for children.


      We determined food consumption patterns using validated data from the School Physical Activity and Nutrition survey; the survey is used as part of a surveillance program of public school students conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in partnership with the Texas Department of State Health Services. The sample included a total of 15,173 children in grades 4 (6235), 8 (5362), and 11 (3576). Multistage probability sampling weights were used. Odds ratios were computed controlling for sex, body mass index, and race and ethnicity, and cross-sectional patterns were determined using multivariate logistic regression.


      Children in grades 8 and 11 were more likely to consume hamburger and other meats, cheese, breads, buns, and rolls, and sweet rolls compared with 4th-grade students. In contrast, 4th-grade students were more likely to consume peanuts or peanut butter, yogurt, cereal, fruit, and milk compared with 8th- and 11th-grade students. Eighth- and eleventh-grade students were more likely to consume snacks than 4th-grade students.


      Using cross-sectional data to assess differences in dietary intake and meal patterns by grade can provide readily accessible information to develop a needs assessment or intervention materials for children and adolescents. Different intervention development approaches are necessary among children in different grades.

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