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Relationship of white potato to other vegetable consumption by schoolchildren and adolescents in the USA: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2008

Lauren Olsho, Meenakshi Fernandes


August 4, 2014

OBJECTIVE: Intake of white potatoes in and out of school was estimated to provide context for a recent proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to limit provision of white potatoes in U.S. school meals.

DESIGN: Mean daily servings of white potatoes and other vegetables consumed in and out of school for school-aged children were estimated from two days of 24 h dietary recall data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). Total energy intake and percentage energy contribution from discretionary oils and solid fats were also estimated for all white potato dishes consumed.

SETTING: The NHANES is nationally representative of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population.

SUBJECTS: Children and adolescents aged 6–19 years (n 8466) from three combined NHANES cycles (2003–2004, 2005–2006 and 2007–2008).

RESULTS: White potatoes represented 32% of all vegetable servings consumed by U.S. children and adolescents. Preparations high in fats and oils, including French fries, were most popular both in and out of school. Mean consumption of white potatoes obtained from school cafeterias was approximately 0.05 servings/d among all children and adolescents, and about 0.15 servings/d among children and adolescents acquiring at least one item from the school cafeteria, implying current weekly intake levels well below the limit of 2 servings/week proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

CONCLUSIONS: Although white potatoes represent a substantial proportion of vegetable consumption among school-aged children, it is unclear that proposed limits would influence white potato intake from school cafeterias. Policy makers should consider targeting preparation methods to improve the healthfulness of white potato dishes.

Focus Areas
North America