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Highlights from the May 2007 Journal of the American Dietetic Association

American Dietetic Association

CHICAGO -- The May 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association contains articles and research studies you may find of interest. Below is a summary of some of this month's articles.

Snacking Can Benefit Older Adults

A nationally representative study of more than 2,000 people over age 65 found snacking is an "important dietary behavior" among older adults that can help ensure they consume enough calories in their diets, according to researchers at Auburn University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Calorie consumption has been found to decrease as people get older - by as much as 1,200 calories per day for men and 800 calories per day for women at age 70 compared to the consumption of 25-year-olds. Reasons for eating less include physical decline and illness, limited financial resources and social factors such as living alone. While some research has investigated meal patterns among older adults, less has been done on the role of snacks.

The researchers found 84 percent of the adults in the study ate snacks daily, with an average of about 2.5 snacks per day. Those who ate snacks consumed significantly higher amounts of calories, protein, carbohydrates and total fat than non-snackers. Snacks accounted for about one-quarter of all the snackers' daily calories, about one-fifth of their fat intake and 14 percent of their protein.

"This study shows snacking is an important dietary behavior, both in terms of the prevalence and the (calorie) contribution, among older adults," the researchers write. "Whereas snacking may promote (calorie) imbalance resulting in obesity among other age groups, our results suggest snacking may ensure older adults consume diets adequate in (calories).

Poor Dietary Intake among Children with Sickle Cell Disease

As children with sickle cell disease age, their consumption of important nutrients declines and probably contributes to many of the children's "poor growth status" that is "particularly striking by adolescence," according to researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

While sickle cell disease affects up to one in 400 African-American children, few studies have been conducted to measure the nutritional effects of the "growth deficits and delayed pubertal development often seen" in people with sickle cell disease, according to the researchers. For three years, the researchers studied eating patterns of 97 children with sickle cell disease ranging in age from 18 months to 18 years. Among their findings:

  • Consumption of vitamins E and D, folate, calcium and fiber was low for children of all ages, compared with recommended amounts.
  • Consumption of vitamin A, magnesium and phosphorus was "suboptimal" in children older than 9.
  • The largest nutrient drops between the youngest children and the oldest were in protein, vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and magnesium.
  • Steep drops in riboflavin, zinc, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus consumption occurred among all children during the three years of the study.

"The dropoff in micronutrient adequacy during the school-age years identifies a critical time point for nutrition intervention," the researchers write. "It is important for clinical care providers to emphasize the importance of nutritious and consistent meals and snacks in maintaining adequate dietary intake."

Additional research articles in the May Journal of the American Dietetic Association include:

  • Validation of Three Food Frequency Questionnaires to Assess Dietary Calcium Intake in Adults
  • Development and Evaluation of a Short Instrument to Estimate Usual Dietary Intake of Percent Energy from Fat
  • Is the Medficts Rapid Dietary Fat Screener Valid for Pre-Menopausal African-American Women?
  • Comparison of Three Methods if Dietary Fat Consumption in African-Americans
  • An Alternative to Dietary Data Exclusions
  • Changes in Type of Foodservice and Dining Room Environment Preferentially Benefit Institutionalized Seniors with Low Body Mass Indices
  • Clients' Safe Food Handling Knowledge and Risk Behavior in the Home-Delivered Meal Program
  • Nutrition Assessment in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002
  • How Does MyPyramid Compare to Other Population-Based Recommendations for Controlling Chronic Disease?
  • Assessing Change in Dietary Fat Behaviors in a Weight Loss Program for African-Americans: A Potential Short Method

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For more information or to receive a copy of a Journal article, e-mail media@eatright.org.

The Journal of the American Dietetic Association is the official research publication of the American Dietetic Association and is the premier peer-reviewed journal in the field of nutrition and dietetics.

With more than 65,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. To locate a registered dietitian in your area, visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.

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