Pediatric Trends in Energy Intake, Obesity

Michelle A. Mendez, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Nutrition University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Public Health Chapel Hill, NMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michelle A. Mendez, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Gillings School of Public Health
Chapel Hill, NC

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Mendez: Using national surveillance data to examine trends in energy intake among children, we found that there was an initial decline in intakes from 2003-4 through 2007-08, which mirrored evidence that child obesity in the US may have begun to decline in that period. Subsequently, however, in 2009-10, energy intake increased in older children aged 12-19y, and reached a plateau in children aged <11y. This shift is consistent with reports that, particularly in older children, the downward trend in obesity levels may have been reversed in recent years.

MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?

 Dr. Mendez: Instead of looking at trends only in mean or median intakes, we looked at changes over time across the entire distribution of energy intake. We hoped that even if there was an increase in median intakes, we would not see evidence of a upturn in energy intake among the children at the upper range in the distribution. However, the recent increase in energy intake was similar to or even larger at the 90the percentile than the increase in median intake.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Mendez:  These findings highlight the need for continued vigilance, and for more research to identify effective strategies–including dietary approaches–to improve nutrition throughout childhood and adolescence.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Mendez: We need to identify the contributors to this increase in energy intake among children, as well as the food patterns that help to avoid over-consumption. This is a challenge with our increasingly complex food supply. We are working to improve our ability to more precisely quantify intakes in order to improve our ability to identify how to improve food choices to combat obesity.

Citation:

Shifts in the Recent Distribution of Energy Intake among U.S. Children Aged 2–18 Years
Michelle A. Mendez, Daniela Sotres-Alvarez, Donna R. Miles, Meghan M. Slining, and Barry M. Popkin

Reflect Potential Abatement of Earlier Declining Trends J. Nutr. jn.114.190447; first published online June 11, 2014. doi:10.3945/jn.114.190447