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Nutrient intake disparities in the US: modeling the effect of food substitutions

Zach Conrad, LuAnn K. Johnson, James N. Roemmich, WenYen Juan, Lisa Jahns
Nutrition journal 2018 v.17 no.1 pp. 53
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, adults, at-risk population, breakfast, diet, dinner, eating habits, education, eggs, ethnic differences, folic acid, food purchasing, foods, lunch, menu planning, models, nutrient intake, nutrients, nutritional adequacy, nutritional intervention, nutritional status, vitamin D, United States
BACKGROUND: Diet quality among federal food assistance program participants remains low, and little research has assessed the diet quality of food insecure non-participants. Further research is needed to assess the extent to which food substitutions can improve the nutritional status of these vulnerable populations. Substituting egg dishes for other commonly consumed dishes at certain eating occasions may be an effective strategy for improving the daily nutrient intake among these groups. Eggs are rich in many important nutrients, and are low-cost and part of a wide range of cultural food menus, which are important considerations for low-income and ethnically diverse populations. To help guide the focus of targeted nutrition interventions and education campaigns for vulnerable populations, the present work begins by 1) estimating the prevalence of nutrient inadequacy among these groups, and then models the effect of consuming egg dishes instead of commonly consumed dishes at each eating occasion on 2) the prevalence of nutrient inadequacy, and 3) the mean intake of nutrients. METHODS: Dietary data from 34,741 adults ≥ 20 y were acquired from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2001–2014. Diet pattern modeling was used to substitute commonly consumed egg dishes for commonly consumed main dishes at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. National Cancer Institute usual intake methods were used to estimate the prevalence of inadequate intake of 31 nutrients pre- and post-substitution, and a novel index was used to estimate change in intake of all nutrients collectively. RESULTS: Substituting eggs for commonly consumed main dishes at lunch or dinner did not change total daily nutrient intake for each group (P > 0.05), but decreased the prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy by 1–4 percentage points (P < 0.01). Substituting eggs for commonly consumed foods at breakfast increased the prevalence of folate inadequacy by 8–12 percentage points among each group (P < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: When making food substitutions to increase nutrient intake, eating occasion should be an important consideration. Further research is needed to better understand how food substitutions affect diet costs, which may be an important driver of food purchasing decisions among low income individuals with limited food budgets.