How does dietary intake, particularly dietary patterns, track across life stages from the introduction of foods, into childhood, and through older adulthood?
Approach to Answering the Question
Data Analysis and Food Pattern Modeling Cross-Cutting Working Group
Data Analysis Protocol
Developed for each scientific question being examined, the protocol describes the plan for how the data analysis will be conducted. The protocol provides the:
- Analytic framework,
- Analytic plan, and
- Analysis results.
For this question, dietary intake across life stages will be described in the following ways:
- Differences in food category sources of nutrients across life stages, particularly nutrients of concern
- Differences in mean food group intakes across life stages
- For ages 2 years and older, the percent of each age group who meets existing food group recommendations will be examined
- Differences in beverage contributions to energy and nutrient intakes across life stages
- For ages 0 to less than 24 months, beverages will not include human milk or infant formula
Dietary patterns across life stages will be described in the following ways:
- Differences in food category contributions to energy intake across life stages
- For infants and toddlers receiving human milk or infant formula, energy intake will be limited to complementary foods including baby foods (e.g. commercially prepared pureed fruits and vegetables)
- For ages 2 years and older, food category contributions to total energy intake will be assessed
- Differences in Healthy Eating Index – 2015 (HEI-2015) total and component scores across life stages ages 2 years and older
Note: The analytic plan for infants and toddlers is still in development. The analytic plan for ages 2+ is being implemented.
Draft Conclusion Statement
The draft conclusion statements listed below describe the state of the science related to the specific question examined. Draft conclusions are not considered final until they have been deliberated with and decided upon by the full Committee and published in the Committee’s final advisory report. Individual conclusion statements should not be interpreted as dietary guidance or the Committee’s overarching advice to the Departments.
Diet quality is better among young children and older adults but does not align with existing dietary guidance across all life stages. Food category sources of food groups and nutrients differ across life-stage groups. Fluid milk, as a beverage, decreases starting in early childhood, while the intake of sweetened beverages increases. Fruit and vegetable intakes decline through adolescence and adulthood but increase among older adults. Intakes of burgers and sandwiches contribute to most food groups, nutrients, and food components that fall outside of recommended ranges.