Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition Science

First Advisor

Sibylle Kranz

Committee Member 1

John Burgess

Committee Member 2

Jennifer Dobbs-Oates


To improve children's diet quality for optimal growth and development and the prevention of chronic disease, we conducted two studies. One was focused on analyzing nationally representative data; the other was designed to test the feasibility of children accepting and consuming oily fish in a childcare setting. The objective of our first study was to provide evidence for 2-18 year old children's fish and shellfish consumption patterns and their eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake. The aims of this study were to estimate proportion of children consuming fish, to identify major dietary sources of EPA and DHA, and to estimate intake of EPA and DHA. Dietary and socioeconomic data from children 2-18 years old from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2003-2010 were used to determine the EPA and DHA density of the foods consumed as well as the intake on a) the nutrient level (EPA, DHA), b) the food level (salmon, chicken, eggs) and c) the Food Frequency Questionnaire level (food consumption in past 30 days). Overall, results showed that those foods with the highest EPA and DHA density were the least consumed by children. Children who had at least some EPA and DHA intake received these two nutrients from foods with low EPA and DHA density, such as ice cream. However, half the American children consumed fish or shellfish, which is the food group that contributes the greatest amount to the intake of EPA and DHA. Salmon was a prevalent source of EPA and DHA in all age groups.

The objective of the second study was to increase children's intake of DHA by providing salmon during lunch for children attending childcare. The aims of this study were to introduce salmon without significantly affecting 2-5 year old children's energy intake per meal and to examine children's acceptance of salmon dishes. Forty-five two-to-five year old children were exposed to four chicken and four comparable salmon dishes over the course of a two-month period. The plate-waste method was used to estimate consumption, and a 3-point Likert scale was used for children to rate their acceptance of each chicken and salmon dish. Statistical analysis included the comparison between total energy and DHA intake of meals and the comparison of children's ratings of the liking of each food. Our results showed that children had comparable intake and acceptance of the salmon macaroni and cheese and salmon salad wraps, two dishes that were more familiar to the children. EPA and DHA intake was significantly increased in the sample. Overall, the majority of children consume larger quantities of foods with low EPA and DHA density. However, it is very possible to increase children's EPA and DHA intake by adding foods with higher EPA and DHA density to children's diets. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Included in

Nutrition Commons