Sources of Protein Among U.S. Children & Adolescents, 2005-06


The purpose of this research was to identify the contributions of specific foods to intake of protein among children and adolescents age 2 to 18 years.

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We used the 2005-06 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to determine the contribution of specific foods to intake of protein. The dietary intake data collected in the survey were catalogued according to discrete food codes. For this analysis, food codes representing similar foods -- such as the various types of pasta dishes -- were combined to provide an indication of the contribution of distinct food items to intake of the dietary component being studied. That is, the food codes were sorted into 96 mutually exclusive food categories, termed specific foods.

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There are separate tables for the percentage contribution and mean contribution of various foods, stratified by age group, sex, race/ethnicity, and family income.

Mean Intakes of Protein & Percentage Contribution of Various Foods

Mean Intakes of Protein & Mean Contribution of Various Foods

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Key Findings

Among 2-18 year olds, top sources of protein intake contributing at least 5% are chicken and chicken mixed dishes, pizza, reduced fat milk, beef and beef mixed dishes, burgers, yeast breads, and pasta and pasta dishes. The major sources varied somewhat by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and income. For example:

  • Rankings varied somewhat by age: Whole milk is a major contributor for 2-3 year olds (10%) and for 4-8 year olds (6%).
  • Rankings varied somewhat by race/ethnicity and income: Major contributors for Mexican-Americans include whole milk (7%) and Mexican mixed dishes (7%). Whole milk is also a top source (6%) for 2-18 year olds with a family income=130% of the poverty income ratio.

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Suggested Citation

Suggested citation for information contained on this page:

Sources of Protein Among U.S. Children & Adolescents, 2005-06. Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program website. National Cancer Institute. Updated April 20, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2019.

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