To identify major food sources of nutrients and dietary constituents for US children.


Twenty-four-hour dietary recalls were collected from a nationally representative sample of children age 2 to 18 years (n = 4008) from the US Department of Agriculture's 1989–1991 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals. For each of 16 dietary constituents, the contribution of each of 113 food groups was obtained by summing the amount provided by the food group for all individuals and dividing by total intake from all food groups for all individuals.


Milk, yeast bread, cakes/cookies/quick breads/donuts, beef, and cheese are among the top 10 sources of energy, fat, and protein. Many of the top 10 sources of carbohydrate (yeast bread, soft drinks/sodas, milk, ready-to-eat cereal, cakes/cookies/quick breads/donuts, sugars/syrups/jams, fruit drinks, pasta, white potatoes); protein (poultry, ready-to-eat cereal, pasta); and fat (potato chips/corn chips/popcorn) also contributed >2% each to energy intakes. Ready-to-eat cereal is among the top contributors to folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and zinc intakes. Fruit drinks, containing little juice, contribute ∼14% of total vitamin C intakes.


Fortified foods are influential contributors to many vitamins and minerals. Low nutrient-dense foods are major contributors to energy, fats, and carbohydrate. This compromises intakes of more nutritious foods and may impede compliance with current dietary guidance.

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