Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Roy E. Beauchene

Committee Members

Mary Jo Hitchcock, Frances A. Schofield, Rossie L. Mason


The purposes of this study were to determine the contribution the food eaten at day care centers made to the Recommended Dietary Allowances of preschool children; to evaluate their nutritional status using seven-day records of food intake and measurements of height, weight, and bone density; and to study the correlation between selected nutrients and bone density.

Children from four day care centers in Knoxville, Tennessee, were participants in this study. Permission for participation was obtained by the signed consent of the parents. Complete dietary information (school lunch records and seven-day home records) and physical measurements (height, weight, and bone density) were obtained for 49 children. The research team kept records of food intake for the children at the centers, and the parents recorded intakes at home. Nutrient intakes for energy, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and ascorbic acid were obtained by computer calculation. Height, weight, and bone density were measured at the centers. Bone density was measured by the direct scan technique and final values were determined by computer.

The means of the nutrients supplied well over 100% of the RDA for vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and ascorbic acid. These values were deceivingly high because in three centers the children were receiving vitamin supplements. However, all of the centers supplied over 33% of the RDA for vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and ascorbic acid without vitamin supplements.

Mean daily nutrient intakes were determined by combining the nutrient intakes at the center and at home. The mean nutrient intakes for the boys and for the girls met or exceeded the RDA, except for the iron intake of girls. The percentages of individual children having high (all nutrients meeting the RDA) ; adequate (one or more nutrients less than the RDA but not less than 67%) ; and inadequate (one or more nutrients below 67% of the RDA) levels of nutrient intakes with supplementation were 25%, 53%, and 22%, respectively. The corresponding percentages without supplementation were 21%, 57%, and 22%. More girls tended to fall in the inadequate category than boys, and more boys were in the high category than girls. Ten of the 11 children classified as having inadequate intakes had inadequate intakes of iron. Three of the 11 inadequate diets were inadequate in calcium. One boy consumed as many as six nutrients at inadequate levels. Fifty-nine percent of the children were receiving vitamin supplements at home. All of the children normally received vitamin supplements at the centers. The supplement provided at the centers provided 100% or more of the RDA for vitamins for children.

Bone density values ranged from 0.55 to 1.16 gram equivalents of alloy per cubic centimeter of bone with a mean of 0.77. No significant sex differences were found for the growth parameters and nutrient intakes of black children, but white boys had significantly higher bone densities and intakes of protein and phosphorus than white girls. White boys were significantly older and had greater intakes of calcium than black boys, but black boys had significantly higher bone densities than white boys. Black girls were found to have significantly greater bone densities and intakes of protein and vitamin A than white girls although white girls were significantly older. Black girls had a mean intake of vitamin A from food that was nearly twice that of white girls.

Correlations between bone density and selected factors were determined for each race according to sex. No significant correlations were evidenced for black boys or white girls when bone density was correlated to height, weight, or selected nutrient intakes. Bone density was significantly correlated to vitamin A intake in black girls and to height in white boys. When the bone densities of all children were correlated to selected factors, a significant correlation was found only between bone density and vitamin A intake. The correlations which were not significant were between bone density and age, height, weight, and between bone density and the total daily intakes of protein, calcium, phosphorus, and ascorbic acid.

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