publication - Nestlé Nutrition Institute

Foods Consumed at Lunch and Their Contribution to Energy and
Nutrient Intakes in U.S. Children and Adolescents:
Analysis from NHANES 2007-2010
Peters V., van der Horst K., Eldridge A., Nestlé Research Center, Switzerland
Lunch meals provide an opportunity to offer a wide variety of food groups to children. However data on this eating occasion are scarce. This study aims
therefore to examine lunch meals of U.S. children.
Data collected from a single 24-hour recall in children 4-8y (n=1895), 9-13y (n=1717), and 14-18y (n=1535) in the 2007-2010 National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey were analysed using SAS 9.2. Lunch includes eating occasions designated by the respondent as “lunch“ or “almuerzo". Food group
analysis was performed based on the USDA 150 food grouping scheme.
Lunch skipping was common, especially among older children. A total of 10.3%, 19.9%, 19.0% of the children 4-8y, 9-13y and 14-18y respectively did not
report any lunch meal on the day of the recall (Figure 1). On average, lunch contributed to 25.5%, 23.9% and 27.1% of total energy intake in children 4-8y,
9-13y and 14-18y (Figure 2). Although consumption of most food groups was comparable across age groups (Figure 3A), fruit and vegetable consumption
tended to decrease with age. However, the frequency of consumption of mixed dishes as sandwiches and pizza increased with age and most likely
contributed to vegetable intake. With regard to beverages, consumption of milk based beverages and 100% fruit juices decreased with age (Figure 3B).
Relative to energy contribution, lunch provided higher percentages of the day’s total intake for protein and sodium and lower intakes for total sugar, iron and
vitamin A among all age groups (Figure 4).
Total energy
Energy intake at
Figure 1. Percent of children (mean ± SEM) 4-8y, 9-13y, 14-18y reporting
having lunch on the first day 24-hr recall.
Figure 2. Energy intake provided by lunch and total daily energy intake
(mean ± SEM) in children 4-8y, 9-13y, 14-18y.
A. Foods consumed at lunch
B. Beverages consumed at lunch
Figure 4. Contribution of lunch to total nutrient (mean ±SEM) and energy
intake (purple line) in children 4-8y (A), 9-13y (B), 14-18y (C)
Figure 3. Percent of children 4-8y, 9-13y, 14-18y reporting consumption of
food groups (A) and beverages (B) at lunch time.
Variety of food groups at lunch tended to decrease with age in U.S.
children. Nutrition education programmes specifically targeted to
adolescents are required, with emphasis on increased fruit, vegetable, milk
and water consumption.