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Revista de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0034-8910On-line version ISSN 1518-8787

Rev. Saúde Pública vol.50  supl.1 São Paulo  2016  Epub Feb 23, 2016

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/s01518-8787.2016050006698 

Original Articles

ERICA: intake of macro and micronutrients of Brazilian adolescents

Amanda de Moura SouzaI 

Laura Augusta BarufaldiII 

Gabriela de Azevedo AbreuIII 

Denise Tavares GianniniIV 

Cecília Lacroix de OliveiraV 

Marize Melo dos SantosVI 

Vanessa Sá LealVII 

Francisco de Assis Guedes VasconcelosVIII 

IInstituto de Estudos em Saúde Coletiva. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil

IIDepartamento de Vigilância de Doenças e Agravos Não Transmissíveis e Promoção da Saúde. Secretaria de Vigilância em Saúde. Ministério da Saúde. Brasília, DF, Brasil

IIIPrograma de Pós-Graduação em Saúde Coletiva. Instituto de Medicina Social. Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil

IV Divisão de Nutrição. Hospital Universitário Pedro Ernesto. Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil

VDepartamento de Nutrição. Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil

VIDepartamento de Nutrição. Núcleo de Estudos em Saúde Pública. Universidade Federal do Piauí. Teresina, PI, Brasil

VIINúcleo de Nutrição. Centro Acadêmico de Vitória. Universidade Federal de Pernambuco. Vitória de Santo Antão, PE, Brasil

VIIIDepartamento de Nutrição. Centro de Ciências da Saúde. Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. Florianópolis, SC, Brasil


ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE

To describe food and macronutrient intake profile and estimate the prevalence of inadequate micronutrient intake of Brazilian adolescents.

METHODS

Data from 71,791 adolescents aged from 12 to 17 years were evaluated in the 2013-2014 Brazilian Study of Cardiovascular Risks in Adolescents (ERICA). Food intake was estimated using 24-hour dietary recall (24-HDR). A second 24-HDR was collected in a subsample of the adolescents to estimate within-person variability and calculate the usual individual intake. The prevalence of food/food group intake reported by the adolescents was also estimated. For sodium, the prevalence of inadequate intake was estimated based on the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). The Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) method used as cutoff was applied to estimate the prevalence of inadequate nutrient intake. All the analyses were stratified according to sex, age group and Brazilian macro-regions. All statistical analyses accounted for the sample weight and the complex sampling design.

RESULTS

Rice, beans and other legume, juice and fruit drinks, breads and meat were the most consumed foods among the adolescents. The average energy intake ranged from 2,036 kcal (girls aged from 12 to 13 years) to 2,582 kcal (boy aged from14 to 17 years). Saturated fat and free sugar intake were above the maximum limit recommended (< 10.0%). Vitamins A and E, and calcium were the micronutrients with the highest prevalence of inadequate intake (> 50.0%). Sodium intake was above the UL for more than 80.0% of the adolescents.

CONCLUSIONS

The diets of Brazilian adolescents were characterized by the intake of traditional Brazilian food, such as rice and beans, as well as by high intake of sugar through sweetened beverages and processed foods. This food pattern was associated with an excessive intake of sodium, saturated fatty acids and free sugar.

Key words: Adolescent; Food Consumption; Micronutrients; Macronutrients; Diet Surveys; Cross-Sectional Studies; Nutrition Surveys

RESUMO

OBJETIVO

Descrever o perfil de consumo alimentar e de macronutrientes, e estimar a prevalência de inadequação da ingestão de micronutrientes em adolescentes brasileiros.

MÉTODOS

Foram avaliados dados de 71.791 adolescentes de 12 a 17 anos que participaram do Estudo de Riscos Cardiovasculares em Adolescentes (ERICA), realizado em 2013-2014. O consumo alimentar foi estimado por meio de recordatório alimentar de 24h; em uma subamostra dos adolescentes foi coletado um segundo R24h para a estimativa da variância intrapessoal e o cálculo de ingestão alimentar usual. Estimou-se prevalência de consumo de alimentos ou grupos de alimentos referidos pelos adolescentes. Para ingestão inadequada de sódio considerou-se valores acima do nível de ingestão máxima tolerável. Prevalências de inadequação foram calculadas pelo método da Necessidade Média Estimada (Estimated Average RequirementEAR) como ponto de corte. Todas as análises foram estratificadas segundo sexo, faixa etária e macrorregiões do País, e levaram em consideração o peso amostral e a complexidade do desenho do estudo.

RESULTADOS

Os alimentos mais consumidos pelos adolescentes foram arroz, feijão e outras leguminosas, sucos e refrescos, pães, e carne bovina. A ingestão média de energia dos adolescentes variou de 2.036 kcal (meninas de 12 a 13 anos) a 2.582 kcal (meninos de 14 a 17 anos). O consumo de ácidos graxos saturados e de açúcar livre ultrapassaram limites máximos recomendados da ingestão energética total (< 10,0%). Maiores prevalências de inadequação (> 50,0%) foram para cálcio e vitaminas A e E. O consumo de sódio foi acima dos limites máximos recomendados em mais de 80,0% dos adolescentes.

CONCLUSÕES

A dieta dos adolescentes brasileiros é caracterizada pelo consumo de alimentos tradicionais, como arroz e feijão, e ingestão elevada de bebidas açucaradas e alimentos ultraprocessados. Esse padrão associa-se à elevada inadequação da ingestão de cálcio, vitaminas A e E e ao consumo excessivo de ácidos graxos saturados, sódio e açúcar livre.

Palavras-Chave: Adolescente; Consumo de Alimentos; Micronutrientes; Macronutrientes; Inquéritos sobre Dietas; Estudos Transversais; Inquéritos Nutricionais

INTRODUCTION

The leading causes of death in all regions of Brazil are chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD)19. Being overweight and obese, which are important risk factors for these diseases, are showing increasing levels of prevalence worldwide and can affect all stages of life, including childhood and adolescence9.

Increased consumption of ultra-processed foods, which are high in fat, sugar and salt, and decreased consumption of legume, vegetables and fruits20, which are associated with lower daily energy expenditure, can explain the growing trends for being overweight and obese2,a, as well as metabolic changes in the child and adolescent population. These aspects also contribute to nutritional deficiencies that are characteristic during this stage of life, such as those regarding iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins A, C, and E21.

Adolescence is a time of intense body modificationb; improper eating habits during this period are associated with increased risk of obesity and other NCD8, so monitoring the food consumed by Brazilian adolescents is an important factor for implementing and evaluating intervention strategies. Based on the aforementioned, the objective of this study was to describe the profile of food and macronutrient consumption as well as to estimate the prevalence of inadequate intake of these micronutrients of Brazilian adolescents.

METHODS

The Brazilian Study of Cardiovascular Risks in Adolescents (ERICA), performed from 2013 to 2014, was used as a data source. ERICA is a national school-based survey whose goal was to evaluate the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and metabolic syndrome in adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years who attended public and private schools in 124 cities. Detailed information regarding the sampling procedure and data collection have already been published3,23. In brief, ERICA adopted a three stage cluster sampling plan. During the first stage, the schools were selected with probability proportional to size, which had been previously stratified into 32 geographical strata (27 state capitals and five sets with the other municipalities from each macro-region). The second stage saw three combinations of class sessions (morning and afternoon) and year (one of the last three years of elementary school or one of the first three years of high school) being selected. One class for each of the previously described combinations was selected in the third stage15. Adolescents not within the 12 to 17 years age group were excluded, as well as pregnant adolescents and those with some degree of disability that made anthropometric evaluation or completing the questionnaire impossible.

Of the 102,327 adolescents who were eligible to participate in ERICA, 73,160 completed their 24-hour dietary recall (24-HDR) and 75,589 filled in a questionnaire (around 100 questions divided into 11 blocks, covering sociodemographic, health and lifestyle aspects) on an electronic data collector (personal digital assistant – PDA). ERICA participants were grouped into subsets according to the parts of the study about which they possessed information, which was done so that the sampling weights were calculated for each of the defined subsets. Therefore, 71,971 adolescents who had completed data for the PDA and 24-HDR subset were evaluated in this study. The non-response rate for this subset was 29.7%. In a subsample of two adolescents per class (around 7.0% of the sample), a second round of 24-HDR were collected to estimate intrapersonal variance, which made it possible to calculate the normal dietary intake of these adolescents.

Food intake was estimated by applying the 24-HDR. The adolescents were interviewed by trained field researchers, who used a specific software to enter food consumption data, by directly recording the information on netbooks. The multiple-pass method was used as interview technique5, which consists of an overseen five-stage interview, with the aim of reducing under-report of food consumption. The software used in this study contained a list of items included in the food and beverage purchase database from the 2002-2003 Pesquisa de Orçamentos Familiares (POF – Brazilian Household Budget Survey), which was performed by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)c. The food items that were not contained in the database were added by the interviewers.

The intake of energy and nutrients was estimated based on the Tabela de Composição Nutricional dos Alimentos Consumidos no Brasil (Brazilian Food Composition Table)d and the Tabela de Medidas Referidas para os Alimentos Consumidos no Brasil (Brazilian Portion Size Table)e.

Data regarding nutrient intake did not include the consumption of supplements or medicines. To analyze the intake of energy and nutrients, added soy oil was considered in all forms of cooked and braised meat and vegetable preparations. Habitual consumption of sugar and sweetener was evaluated based on the following question: “use frequently; with the following response options: sugar, sweetener, sugar and sweetener, do not use. An addition of 10 g of sugar for every 100 ml of fruit juice, coffee, coffee with milk, tea and herbal tea was standard when adolescents reported habitually consuming sugar; and an addition of 5 g of sugar for every 100 ml of these drinks when the consumption of sugar and sweetener was reported as normal. The 1,626 food items that were available in the list of foods of the software used for data collection during ERICA were categorized into 35 groups with similar macronutrient profiles (Table 1). One single day of consumption provides good estimates for the population’s average intake of nutrients and foods22; therefore, prevalence estimates for food consumption, population averages for energy intake and the percentage contribution of macronutrients were calculated based on one 24-HDR. Only 20 of the most consumed foods were presented.

Table 1 Categorization of foods mentioned by the participants of ERICA according to a similar macronutrient profile. ERICA, Brazil, 2013-2014. 

Food groups Description
Rice Rice, rice with vegetables, sushi and other rice-based preparations
Corn Corn, cornmeal, polenta and other corn-based preparations
Beans and other legumes Beans, soy meat and other types of beans
Vegetables Leafy greens and legumes
Tubers Potatoes, not including industrialized forms (chips), cassava, yams and other tubers
Fruits Fruits and fruit salads
Oilseeds Peanuts, cashews, almonds and others
Breakfast cereals Oats, cereal, Granola bar and other cereals
Pasta Pasta, ravioli, lasagna and other pasta-based preparations
Soups Soups and broths
Breads White and integral and toasted breads
Cakes and pastries Cakes and pastries in general
Sweet biscuits Sweet and filled biscuits
Savory biscuits Savory biscuits and chips (potato or corn)
Meat Meat, meat-based preparations and other meats
Pork Pork and pork-based preparations
Chicken Chicken, chicken-based preparations and other fowl
Fish Fish and fish-based preparations
Processed meats Ham, salami, mortadella, sausage, sausage and other processed meats
Eggs Eggs and egg-based preparations
Milk Whole and skimmed milk
Flavored dairy drinks Dairy drinks sweetened with artificial or natural flavorings, and fermented milk
Soy-based beverages Soy milk and soy-based beverages
Juices and fruit drinks Natural and processed fruit juices
Soft drinks Regular soft drinks
Low sugar or light fat soft drinks Diet and light soft drinks
Coffee Coffee, cappuccino, latte and other coffee-based drinks
Tea Teas
Alcoholic beverages Wine, beer and others
Cheeses and other dairy products Cheeses and yogurts
Sweets and desserts Sweets, fruit-based desserts, chocolate and other candies
Sugar, honey and jellies Sugar, honey and jellies
Diet or light sweets and desserts Diet or light sweets, desserts, cakes, pastries and cookies
Oils and fats Vegetable oils, olive oil, butter, margarine, sauces and condiments
Pizza Pizzas and calzones
Fried and baked snacks Savory chicken pastry, pie, cheese-bread and other savory snacks
Sandwiches Hamburgers and other sandwiches

The percentiles of intake distributions and prevalence of inadequate micro-nutrient consumption (calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, zinc, vitamins A, C, E and B12) were estimated based on the 24-HDR data, which were corrected for within-person variability in accordance with the method proposed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)7. This method consists of a two-part nonlinear mixed model: the first being based on a random effects logistic regression model to estimate consumption probability; the second estimating the amount consumed through random effect linear regression models, which were applied after data transformed to normality. Brazil’s five macro-regions and the school’s locational status (urban or rural) were considered as covariates in all models used.

The inadequacy prevalences were estimated as the proportion of adolescents who had a micronutrient intake below the estimated average requirement9-16, using the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) method as a cut-off point, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM)11. Calculating the prevalence of inadequacy considered the sample weight and the complexity of the sample design, which involved using the Fay-modified Balanced Repeated Replication (Fay-BRR) technique1,6.

A manually determined probabilistic approach was used to estimate the inadequacy of iron, since the distribution curve of iron necessity is considered asymmetric among women of childbearing age, not taking into account the assumptions required so that the EAR can be used12. For each percentile (1, 5, 10, 15, 25, 40, 50, 75, 85, 90, 95, 99) of the distribution of normal iron intakes, the probability of inadequacy was estimated according to sex and age group, based on the recommendations set out by the IOM12. The prevalence of inadequacy is the sum of the percentage of adolescents with inadequacy in each percentile.

Regarding sodium intake, values above the Tolerable Upper Intake Level were considered as inadequate, which allowed the proportion of adolescents at risk of adverse health effects to be estimated10.

Age was categorized into two groups due to the different recommended micronutrient intake levels for each sex and ages. The analyses were stratified according to sex, age group (12 to 13 years and 14 to 17 years) and macro-regions. All estimates were calculated using the SAS (Statistical Analysis System) software, version 9.3, which took factors regarding the expansion and complexity of the sample design into account.

ERICA was approved by the Research Ethics Committees of the Institute of Collective Health Studies at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and those from each State including the Federal District. All participants signed an assent form.

RESULTS

Foods that were most prevalently consumed among adolescents in the two age groups were rice (82.0%), beans (68.0%), juices and fruit drinks (56.0%), bread (53.0%) and meat (52.0%) (Figure 1). We observed high prevalence of ultra-processed food consumption, which include carbonated soft drinks, fried and baked snacks, sweet and savory biscuits, with carbonated soft drinks being the sixth most mentioned food (45.0%). The prevalence of fruit consumption was low, with this food group only being listed as most consumed among boys aged between 12 and 13 years (18.0%).

Figure 1 Prevalence of the 20 most consumed foods among Brazilian adolescents according to sex and age group. ERICA, 2013-2014. 

The stratified analysis according to macro-regions showed important differences regarding the rate of consumption of some food items (Figure 2). Coffee (64.0%) was only among the five most consumed foods in the North region. Beans were the second most consumed food in the Southeast, Midwest and Northeast regions. The South region showed the highest prevalence for carbonated soft drink consumption (51.0%). Vegetables (54.0%) only figured among the five most consumed foods in the Midwest region.

Figure 2 Prevalence of the 20 most consumed foods among Brazilian adolescents according macro-region. ERICA, 2013-2014. 

The average energy intake of adolescents varied from 2,036 kcal among girls aged between 12 and 13 years to 2,582 kcal among boys aged between 14 and 17 years (Table 2). Total energy intake according to age did not differ for females. For males, energy intake was higher among boys aged between 14 and 17 years, when compared to boys between 12 and 13 years (2,582 kcal versus 2,281 kcal). Energy intake averages were similar among the macro-regions.

Table 2 Mean and 95%CI of energy consumption and the percentage of the total caloric intake of macronutrients according to sex and age group, both for Brazil and its macro-regions. ERICA, 2013-2014. 

Variable Girls Boys


12-13 14-17 12-13 14-17




Mean 95%CI Mean 95%CI Mean 95%CI Mean 95%CI
Energy (kcal)
Brazil 2,036 1,981-2,090 2,124 2,086-2,161 2,281 2,192-2,370 2,582 2,511-2,653
North 2,121 1,990-2,253 2,155 2,103-2,206 2,261 2,135-2,387 2,573 2,499-2,648
Northeast 2,100 1,924-2,277 2,257 2,188-2,326 2,502 2,349-2,657 2,668 2,568-2,767
Midwest 2,068 1,988-2,148 2,112 2,052-2,172 2,394 2,273-2,516 2,652 2,564-2,741
Southeast 2,018 1,961-2,076 2,085 2,024-2,144 2,213 2,062-2,364 2,564 2,433-2,696
South 1,913 1,728-2,098 2,033 1,945-2,121 2,121 1,980-2,261 2,464 2,393-2,536
Carbohydrates (%)
Brazil 54.0 53.4-54.3 53.7 53.4-54.1 53.7 52.9-53.9 53.7 52.8-54.0
North 54.8 53.9-55.7 54.8 53.5-54.4 54.7 53.6-55.9 54.8 54.2-55.5
Northeast 54.6 53.5-55.6 54.0 53.5-54.6 54.4 53.5-55.2 54.6 53.7-55.4
Midwest 53.2 51.9-54.4 53.0 52.2-53.8 52.1 50.9-53.3 51.5 50.7-52.3
Southeast 53.5 52.8-54.1 53.5 52.9-54.1 53.1 52.5-53.8 52.9 51.9-53.9
South 54.5 53.5-55.5 54.3 52.7-55.8 52.2 49.5-54.9 54.8 52.6-55.0
Protein (%)
Brazil 15.4 15.1-15.7 15.4 15.2-15.6 16.2 15.9-16.4 16.3 16.0-6.6
North 15.6 15.1-16.1 15.6 15.4-15.9 16.3 15.8-16.9 16.2 15.9-16.5
Northeast 15.1 14.7-15.4 15.1 14.7-15.6 15.9 15.2-16.6 15.7 15.5-16.0
Midwest 15.9 15.4-16.5 15.8 15.5-16.1 16.7 16.0-17.4 17.1 16.7-17.5
Southeast 15.6 15.0-16.1 15.6 15.3-15.9 16.2 15.9-16.6 16.5 16.0-17.1
South 14.8 14.0-15.5 14.7 14.1-15.3 16.2 15.3-17.0 15.8 15.4-16.2
Total lipids (%)
Brazil 30.9 30.5-31.3 31.1 30.7-31.5 30.6 30.2-31.0 30.2 29.8-30.6
North 29.5 29.0-30.0 30.6 30.0-31.2 28.8 28.1-29.5 28.7 28.2-29.1
Northeast 30.6 29.7-31.4 31.0 30.4-31.6 29.8 29.1-30.5 29.6 29.7-30.5
Midwest 31.3 30.4-32.1 31.5 31.0-32.0 31.4 30.6-32.2 31.5 31.0-32.0
Southeast 31.3 30.6-32.0 31.2 30.5-31.8 30.9 30.3-31.5 30.4 29.9-31.0
South 31.1 30.3-31.9 31.3 30.3-32.3 31.7 29.9-33.6 30.4 29.4-31.4
Saturated fatty acids (%)
Brazil 11.3 11.1-11.7 11.5 11.3-11.7 10.9 10.6-11.1 10.8 10.7-11.0
North 10.5 10.1-10.8 11.2 10.8-11.5 10.3 10.0-10.7 10.2 9.9-10.5
Northeast 11.3 10.8-11.7 11.5 11.1-11.9 10.8 10.3-11.3 10.8 10.3-11.3
Midwest 11.5 10.9-12.2 11.4 11.1-11.7 11.1 10.7-11.5 10.9 10.7-11.2
Southeast 11.6 11.1-12.0 11.5 11.2-11.9 10.9 10.6-11.2 10.9 10.7-11.1
South 11.2 10.7-11.6 11.4 11.0-11.9 11.0 10.3-11.8 10.9 10.5-11.3
Monounsaturated fatty acids (%)
Brazil 10.5 10.3-11.7 10.6 10.4-10.7 10.3 10.0-10.5 10.2 10.0-10.6
North 10.3 10.0-10.6 10.3 10.2-10.5 10.0 9.7-10.2 9.9 9.7-10.0
Northeast 10.8 10.6-11.0 11.0 10.8-11.1 10.4 10.2-10.6 10.4 10.3-10.5
Midwest 10.9 10.5-11.2 10.9 10.7-11.1 10.6 10.4-10.9 10.8 10.6-11.0
Southeast 10.3 10.1-10.5 10.4 10.3-10.6 10.3 10.8-10.4 10.1 10.0-10.3
South 10.9 10.5-11.2 10.7 10.5-10.9 10.6 10.3-10.9 10.7 10.5-10.9
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (%)
Brazil 6.2 6.1-6.3 6.1 6.0-6.2 6.2 5.9-6.5 5.9 5.8-6.0
North 6.0 5.7-6.3 5.9 5.7-6.0 5.4 5.1-5.7 5.4 5.3-5.6
Northeast 5.7 5.4-5.9 5.8 5.6-6.0 5.5 5.3-5.7 5.4 5.3-5.5
Midwest 5.9 5.7-6.2 6.2 6.0-6.3 6.1 5.8-6.4 6.1 6.0-6.3
Southeast 6.4 6.2-6.6 6.2 6.0-6.4 6.7 6.1-7.2 6.1 5.9-6.3
South 6.5 6.1-6.9 6.4 6.1-6.7 6.6 6.3-6.9 6.2 5.9-6.5
Total trans-fatty acids (%)
Brazil 1.0 0.9-1.0 1.0 0.9-1.0 1.0 0.9-1.0 1.0 0.9-1.0
North 1.1 1.0-1.2 1.1 1.0-1.2 1.1 1.0-1.2 1.1 1.0-1.2
Northeast 1.0 0.9-1.1 1.0 0.9-1.0 1.0 0.9-1.2 1.0 1.0-1.2
Midwest 0.9 0.9-0.9 0.9 0.9-1.0 1.0 1.0-1.2 1.0 0.9-1.0
Southeast 0.9 0.8-1.0 0.9 0.9-1.0 1.0 0.8-1.1 1.0 0.9-1.1
South 1.3 1.1-1.5 1.2 1.1-1.2 1.3 1.2-1.4 1.3 1.2-1.4
Total sugar (%)
Brazil 24.7 24.1-25.3 24.7 24.2-25.1 21.8 21.0-22.5 21.9 21.4-22.4
North 21.3 19.6-22.9 21.5 20.9-22.1 19.2 18.0-20.4 19.1 18.4-19.7
Northeast 24.1 23.3-24.9 24.7 23.7-25.6 22.3 21.3-23.4 22.0 21.3-22.8
Midwest 26.5 25.5-27.6 25.5 24.9-26.1 22.8 21.7-23.9 22.4 21.6-23.2
Southeast 24.7 23.7-25.7 24.7 24.1-25.3 21.6 20.3-22.9 21.8 21.0-22.7
South 27.0 26.0-28.1 26.3 24.8-27.7 22.6 20.6-24.5 23.9 23.2-24.7

The percentage contribution of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids to total energy intake was similar among the different sexes and age groups, as they were among the macro-regions. The averages for the caloric contribution of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids were 54.0%, 15.0%, 31.0% among girls, and 53.0%, 16.0% and 30.0% among boys, respectively (Table 2). Regarding free sugar (added sugar and that present in natural fruit juices), distinct patterns of consumption were observed, with energy contribution from sugar being the greatest among female adolescents, with average values of approximately 25.0% among girls and 22.0% among boys, both of which are above recommended (< 10.0%) by the Brazilian Ministry of Health15. Regardless of sex and age, the caloric contribution of saturated fatty acids exceeded the maximum recommended limit of less than 10.0% of total energy intake15, with an average of approximately 11.0%.

Micronutrients that had the highest prevalence of inadequacy (> 50.0%) were calcium, phosphorus and vitamins E and A. The inadequacy of vitamin E and calcium consumption was present in 100% of the adolescents, regardless of sex, age or region (Tables 3 and 4). Regarding sodium, more than 80.0% of the adolescents showed an intake higher than the tolerable upper intake level, with 100% of boys presenting even higher figure. Inadequate iron intake was higher among females, especially those in the 14 to 17 years age group (14.0% of girls with inadequate intake against 0.9% of boys). The prevalence of inadequate phosphorus consumption was also higher in girls, reaching 60.0% of adolescents aged 14 to 17 years, while for the boys of the same age group, the inadequacy prevalence was 26.0%. Whereas for vitamin C, the values of inadequacy were higher among male adolescents, being 23.0% for boys aged between 14 and 17 years, and 8.0% for girls in the same age group. Vitamin B12 and zinc were the nutrients with the lowest prevalence of inadequacy. Zinc intake was adequate in 99.0% of male adolescents aged 14 to 17 years as was B12 in 100% of the girls aged between 12 and 13 years. The prevalences of inadequacy were generally similar among the macro-regions.

Table 3 Nutritional recommendation (NR)a, percentiles 10, 50 and 90 and prevalences (%IN) of inadequate micronutrient consumption for female adolescents according to age group, both for Brazil and its macroregions. ERICA, 2013-2014. 

Micronutrients by macroregions Age group

12-13 years (N = 10,971) 14-17 years (N = 28,941)


NR 10 50 90 %IN NR 10 50 90 %IN
Calcium (mg)
Brazil 1,100 332 519 781 99.0 1,100 344 538 805 99.0
North 329 517 774 99.0 331 519 778 99.0
Northeast 335 522 789 99.0 336 525 781 99.0
Midwest 349 545 812 99.0 351 545 817 99.0
Southeast 340 529 793 99.0 341 533 800 99.0
South 342 537 802 99.0 347 540 808 99.0
Phosphorus (mg)
Brazil 1,050 709 963 1,284 65.0 1,050 736 997 1,325 60.0
North 734 998 1,329 59.0 734 996 1,326 60.0
Northeast 728 991 1,320 61.0 728 990 1,320 61.0
Midwest 718 976 1,302 63.0 716 975 1,300 63.0
Southeast 723 984 1,313 62.0 723 984 1,313 62.0
South 719 975 1,307 63.0 719 977 1,304 63.0
Iron (mg)
Brazil 5.7 8.3 11.6 16.0 2.5b 7.9 8.6 12.1 16.6 14.1
North 8.4 11.8 16.2 2.1 8.4 11.8 16.2 14.6
Northeast 8.4 11.8 16.2 2.1 8.4 11.9 16.3 14.6
Midwest 8.5 11.9 16.4 2.3 8.5 12.0 16.4 14.6
Southeast 8.5 12.0 16.4 2.1 8.5 11.9 16.4 14.6
South 8.5 12.0 16.5 2.4 8.6 12.0 16.5 14.6
Sodium (mg)
Brazil 2,200 2,048 2,831 3,820 84.0c 2,300 2,154 2,831 3,820 85.0
North 2,220 3,049 4,095 91.0 2,202 3,021 4,064 87.0
Northeast 2,173 2,987 4,014 89.0 2,152 2,957 3,980 85.0
Midwest 2,047 2,819 3,813 84.0 2,028 2,791 3,769 79.0
Southeast 2,128 2,932 3,945 88.0 2,103 2,901 3,397 82.0
South 2,089 2,871 3,876 86.0 2,058 2,840 3,837 80.0
Zinc (mg)
Brazil 7.0 8.1 11.0 14.7 3.0 7.3 8.3 11.3 15.1 3.0
North 8.1 11.1 14.9 3.0 8.2 11.1 14.9 4.0
Northeast 8.2 11.1 15.0 3.0 8.2 11.1 14.9 4.0
Midwest 8.3 11.3 15.2 2.0 8.3 11.3 15.2 3.0
Southeast 8.2 11.2 15.0 3.0 8.2 11.2 15.0 4.0
South 8.3 11.2 15.0 3.0 8.3 11.3 15.1 4.0
Vitamin A (mg)
Brazil 420 194 350 624 66.0 485 208 374 665 72.0
North 207 373 664 60.0 207 372 662 72.0
Northeast 205 368 655 61.0 204 368 655 73.0
Midwest 202 364 648 63.0 202 364 647 74.0
Southeast 203 365 649 62.0 201 363 647 74.0
South 201 363 639 63.0 200 360 645 74.0
Vitamin B12 (mcg)
Brazil 1.5 2.6 4.1 6.3 0.0 2.0 2.7 4.3 6.6 1.0
North 2.7 4.2 6.5 0.0 2.7 4.2 6.5 2.0
Northeast 2.7 4.2 6.5 0.0 2.7 4.2 6.5 2.0
Midwest 2.7 4.2 6.5 0.0 2.7 4.2 6.5 2.0
Southeast 2.7 4.2 6.5 0.0 2.7 4.2 6.5 2.0
South 2.7 4.2 6.5 0.0 2.7 4.2 6.4 2.0
Vitamin E (mg)
Brazil 9.0 2.8 3.9 5.4 100.0 12.0 2.9 4.0 5.4 100.0
North 2.6 3.6 4.9 100.0 2.6 3.7 5.0 100.0
Northeast 2.7 3.7 5.1 100.0 2.8 3.8 5.2 100.0
Midwest 3.0 4.2 5.6 100.0 3.1 4.3 5.7 100.0
Southeast 2.8 3.9 5.3 100.0 2.9 4.0 5.4 100.0
South 3.0 4.1 5.5 100.0 3.0 4.1 5.6 100.0
Vitamin C (mg)
Brazil 39 54.7 93.2 155.1 2.0 56 59.2 100.4 167.0 8.0
North 61.2 104.0 172.4 1.0 60.5 103.0 171.3 7.0
Northeast 59.2 100.9 167.8 1.0 58.8 100.0 166.2 8.0
Midwest 56.6 96.6 161.0 2.0 56.2 95.6 159.3 10.0
Southeast 57.2 97.4 162.5 1.0 56.6 96.3 160.9 10.0
South 55.4 94.9 158.0 2.0 55.0 93.9 157.5 11.0

a Nutritional recommendation based on EAR (Estimated Average Requirements).

b Estimated using the probabilistic approach method for which it was possible to estimate the standard error.

c Estimated based on the tolerable upper intake level.

Table 4 Nutritional recommendation (NR)a, percentiles 10, 50 and 90 and prevalences (%IN) of inadequate micronutrient consumption for male adolescents according to age group, both for Brazil and its macroregions. ERICA, 2013-2014. 

Micronutrients by macroregions Age group

12-13 years (N = 8,983) 14-17 years (N = 23,076)


NR 10 50 90 %IN NR 10 50 90 %IN
Calcium (mg)
Brazil 1,100 333 558 898 97.0 1,100 371 617 982 95.0
North 335 563 728 97.0 341 573 919 96.0
Northeast 344 576 926 96.0 349 586 943 96.0
Midwest 377 629 1,005 94.0 385 638 1,016 93.0
Southeast 353 592 949 96.0 358 599 961 95.0
South 363 608 971 95.0 365 613 979 95.0
Phosphorus (mg)
Brazil 1,050 808 1,088 1,453 45.0 1,050 909 1,219 1,617 26.0
North 838 1,133 1,516 38.0 844 1,145 1,529 36.0
Northeast 849 1,151 1,537 36.0 859 1,161 1,549 34.0
Midwest 900 1,215 1,620 27.0 911 1,227 1,638 26.0
Southeast 863 1,170 1,560 33.0 871 1,175 1,567 32.0
South 877 1,187 1,576 31.0 885 1,196 1,594 29.0
Iron (mg)
Brazil 5.9 10.1 13.7 18.1 0.6b 7.7 11.6 15.5 20.2 0.9
North 10.3 14.0 18.5 0.6 10.5 14.2 18.8 1.6
Northeast 10.7 14.4 19.0 0.6 10.8 14.6 19.2 1.6
Midwest 11.5 15.5 20.3 0.6 11.7 15.7 20.5 0.9
Southeast 11.0 14.8 19.5 0.6 11.1 15.0 19.7 1.3
South 11.4 15.1 19.9 0.6 11.4 15.3 20.2 0.9
Sodium (mg)
Brazil 2,200 2,572 3,432 4,506 97.0c 2,300 2,880 3.8174 4,995 99.0
North 2,715 3,637 4,802 98.0 2,722 3,649 4,817 98.0
Northeast 2,717 3.651 4,828 99.0 2,736 3,668 4,837 98.0
Midwest 2,788 3,727 4,925 99.0 2,790 3,736 4,921 98.0
Southeast 2,738 3,666 4,832 98.0 2,751 3,680 4,856 98.0
South 2,760 3,688 4,865 99.0 2,764 3,701 4,887 98.0
Zinc (mg)
Brazil 7.0 9.3 12.8 17.5 1.0 8.5 10.5 14.4 19.5 2.0
North 9.1 12.6 17.3 1.0 9.3 12.9 17.6 5.0
Northeast 9.5 13.1 18.0 1.0 9.7 13.4 18.3 4.0
Midwest 10.9 15.0 20.4 0.0 11.2 15.3 20.9 1.0
Southeast 9.9 13.7 18.6 0.0 10.1 14.0 19.0 3.0
South 10.3 14.2 19.3 0.0 10.6 14.6 19.8 2.0
Vitamin A (mg)
Brazil 445 217 369 617 68.0 630 238 403 676 87.0
North 238 406 681 59.0 237 405 679 86.0
Northeast 234 398 668 61.0 233 397 665 87.0
Midwest 227 387 652 63.0 226 386 649 89.0
Southeast 229 391 655 62.0 224 382 642 88.0
South 224 386 646 64.0 224 382 642 89.0
Vitamin B12 (mcg)
Brazil 1.5 2.6 4.4 7.3 1.0 2.0 3.0 5.0 8.3 1.0
North 2.6 4.4 7.3 1.0 2.7 4.5 7.5 3.0
Northeast 2.7 4.6 7.6 0.0 2.8 4.7 7.8 2.0
Midwest 3.2 5.3 8.8 0.0 3.2 5.4 9.0 1.0
Southeast 2.9 4.7 7.8 0.0 2.9 4.8 8.0 2.0
South 2.9 4.9 8.2 0.0 3.0 5.0 8.3 1.0
Vitamin E (mg)
Brazil 9.0 2.9 4.3 6.2 100.0 12.0 3.2 4.7 6.8 100.0
North 2.7 4.0 5.8 100.0 2.8 4.1 5.9 100.0
Northeast 2.9 4.3 6.1 100.0 3.0 4.4 6.3 100.0
Midwest 3.5 5.0 7.1 99.0 3.6 5.2 7.3 100.0
Southeast 3.1 4.5 6.5 100.0 3.2 4.7 6.7 100.0
South 3.3 4.8 6.9 99.0 3.4 5.0 7.0 100.0
Vitamin C (mg)
Brazil 39.0 37.2 91.7 210.0 11.0 63.0 42.9 104.6 236.0 23.0
North 42.5 104.8 240.0 8.0 42.5 104.0 237.0 23.0
Northeast 41.4 102.5 233.0 9.0 41.2 101.7 233.0 24.0
Midwest 40.8 101.7 229.6 9.0 41.0 101.1 230.3 24.0
Southeast 39.5 98.5 228.2 10.0 39.6 98.6 225.0 26.0
South 39.6 96.6 221.4 10.0 39.3 96.6 222.1 27.0

a Nutritional recommendation based on EAR (Estimated Average Requirements).

b Estimated using the probabilistic approach method for which it was possible to estimate the standard error.

c Estimated based on the tolerable upper intake level.

DISCUSSION

Brazilian adolescents’ diets were characterized by the consumption of traditional foods, such as rice and beans, with a high prevalence of sugary drinks, such as juices and carbonated soft drinks, and ultra-processed food intake. This dietary profile was accompanied by an excessive consumption of saturated fatty acids and free sugar, as it was with a high prevalence of inadequate intake of micronutrients such as calcium, vitamins A and E. In addition, more than 80.0% of the adolescents showed a sodium intake above the recommended maximum limits.

Until now, only two national surveys evaluated food consumption by adolescents, both of which were performed by the IBGE: Pesquisa Nacional de Saúde do Escolar (PeNSE The Brazilian National Survey of School Health)f and the Inquérito Nacional de Alimentação (INA Brazilian National Dietary Survey)g. PeNSE was performed in 2009 and 2012 during the ninth year of elementary school and evaluated dietary intake using questions regarding the frequency in which foods, considered as healthy and non-healthy, were consumed. The 2008-2009 INA was a home survey that evaluated food consumption in individuals aged 10 years or more using food records from two non-consecutive days. However, despite the methodological differences used to evaluate dietary intake, the food consumption pattern found during ERICA was similar to that observed among adolescents evaluated in the 2008-2009 INA and during the last PeNSE, in 2012.

In this study, rice, beans, bread, juices and uncarbonated soft drinks, and beef were the foods most consumed by adolescents regardless of sex and age. These foods, with the exception of juices and uncarbonated soft drinks, were also the most consumed among the adolescents involved in the INA20. Regarding the consumption of sugary drinks, the prevalence of ingesting juices, uncarbonated soft drinks and sodas during ERICA was greater than what was observed during INA. The consumption of juices and uncarbonated soft drinks was reported by more than 50.0% of the adolescents participating in ERICA, while in INA the prevalence was about 44.0%. In relation to the intake of carbonated soft drinks, the consumption prevalence of these was almost twice as large in ERICA when compared to the INA results (45.0% versus 28.0%, respectively). The prevalence of carbonated soft drink intake in adolescents involved in ERICA was also higher than the value observed in the 2012 PeNSE, in which approximately 33.0% of adolescents reported consuming carbonated soft drinks on five or more days during the week.

During ERICA, there were distinct food patterns observed among the different Brazilian macro-regions, which showed a higher prevalence of carbonated soft drink intake in the South region (51.0%). Whereas, vegetable consumption was highest in the Midwest region (54.0%), which was a result similar to that observed during the 2012 PeNSE (51.2%).

The average energy intake observed among adolescents during ERICA was higher compared to the estimated averages for adolescents from the INA. During ERICA, the energy values ranged from 2,036 kcal to 2,124 kcal among female adolescents, and from 2,281 kcal to 2,582 kcal among male adolescents, while in the INA these values ranged from 1,869 to 1,912 kcal among girls and 1,952 kcal to 2,198 kcal among boys24. This difference can be explained by the increased consumption of high energy density ultra-processed foods such as carbonated soft drinks, juices, biscuits and fried and baked snacks that was observed between the surveys, as well as the difference methods that were used to estimate food consumption, since during the INA there was an estimated underreporting of energy consumption at an average of 17.0%14.

Regarding the contribution percentage of total energy intake for macronutrients, the averages estimated in this study for carbohydrates, proteins and lipids were within the limits established by the Brazilian Ministry of Health15. We did not observe any significant variation in caloric macronutrient contribution among the macro-regions. Carbohydrate intake was lower among adolescents involved in ERICA when compared to the results of the INA (57.0% versus 54.0%), whereas the caloric contribution of lipids in ERICA was greater than that observed in adolescents from the INA (27.0% versus 31.0%).

During this study, the estimated average for the caloric contribution of saturated fatty acids was 11.0%, which is above the upper limit of 10.0% of total energy consumption as recommended by the Brazilian Ministry of Health15. This value was slightly larger than what was found during the INA, which was approximately 10.0%. The average caloric contribution of free sugar among adolescents evaluated in ERICA ranged from 25.0% among girls to 22.0% among boys and was two times greater than the value recommended by the Brazilian Ministry of Health, which is less than 10.0% of total caloric intake. This high sugar consumption can be explained by the high consumption prevalence of sweets, desserts and sugary drinks, such as carbonated soft drinks, juices and milk drinks. The values found in this study were similar to those observed during the INA, and the caloric contribution of free sugar was higher among female adolescents evaluated in ERICA (22.0% versus 25.0%, respectively). The calorie participation from free sugar was higher in the South region, reaching an average of 27.0% of total caloric consumption among girls aged 12 to 13 years. The South region actually showed the highest prevalence of carbonated soft drink consumption, which is a source of free sugar. International population-based studies have results similar to those observed during ERICA in terms of free sugar consumption4,13. In Canada, the caloric contribution of added sugar among adolescents was 25.0%, with carbonated soft drinks being the main source of free sugar in their diet4.

Regarding micronutrients, calcium and sodium were the minerals that were seen to have the highest prevalence of inadequacy: 99.0% of girls with calcium inadequacy, which is higher than the value found in the INA (around 97.0%). The inadequate calcium intake observed in this study may be partly explained by the persistently low prevalence of dairy product intake among adolescents. In relation to sodium consumption, the prevalence of adolescents with consumption above the maximum recommended level ranged from 84.0% among girls, aged 12 to 13 years, to 99.0% among boys, aged 14 to 17 years, which reflects the high intake of high-sodium-content foods, such as crackers and processed meats, by adolescents. The values of the prevalence of sodium inadequacy were higher in ERICA when compared to values of inadequacy from the INA, whose maximum observed value was 89.0% among boys aged between 14 and 18 years.

The prevalence of iron inadequacy was around six times greater in adolescents aged from 14 to 17 years when compared to adolescents aged from 12 to 13 years. The greater prevalence of inadequate iron intake among older girls was also observed among the adolescents from the INA; however, the prevalence of inadequacy was higher than that observed in this study (24.0% versus 14.0%, respectively)4.

Vitamins A and E were those which had the highest prevalence of inadequacy, especially vitamin E, whose inadequate consumption was observed in 100% of the adolescents. The values observed in this study for these micronutrients are similar to those found among adolescents involved in the INA. However, the prevalences of vitamin C inadequacy among adolescents from ERICA were lower than those obtained during the INA. For example, the prevalence of inadequacy was 2.0% among girls aged 12 to 13 years in ERICA, while in the INA this prevalence was 33.0% among girls aged 10 to 13 years. These values can be partly explained by differences in age and the higher consumption prevalence of juices and uncarbonated soft drinks among the ERICA adolescents, despite the low rate of fruit consumption.

The World Health Organization (WHO)h also established an EAR for iron and vitamins A and B12. However, when compared to the cut-off points established by the IOM, the differences are most significant for vitamin A and iron. The cut-off points proposed by WHO for vitamin A (330-400 mg) are lower than those established by the IOM. As a result, the prevalence of inadequacy values would be lower if the WHO recommendation had been used. The prevalence of vitamin A inadequacy would be about 40.0% and 30.0% for girls and boys, respectively, if the lower recommended limit of 330 mg of vitamin A were considered as the cut-off point. Regarding iron, the EAR values for older age groups (15 to 17 years) were higher than those established by the IOM (9.0 versus 7.9 for girls, and 9.6 versus 7.7 for boys), as a result, the higher prevalence of inadequacy values were expected. However, employing the EAR method as a cut-off point is not suitable to evaluate iron inadequacy in women of childbearing age, given that the needs present asymmetric distribution. In this case, the probabilistic approach method must be selected, which was true of the choice made in this study12. However, when comparing the EAR values for iron, as proposed by WHO, with the percentiles of normal intake estimated for adolescents to older age group, it was concluded that the prevalence of inadequacy values estimated in this study would probably be similar if the cut points established by WHO were used. The prevalence of iron inadequacy would be approximately 10.0% among girls and around 5.0% among boys (data not presented).

ERICA was the first national school-base survey to use the 24-HDR as a method of evaluating food consumption, which made obtaining estimates of energy and nutrient intake possible, as well as enabling better characterization of the quality of adolescents’ diets. The advantages of this method are its low cost, rapid implementation, and the fact that is does not alter the eating habits of the individual being evaluated24. Errors in the 24-HDR are mainly related to the interviewee’s memory, thus applying standardized interviews techniques such as in the Multiple-Pass Method are important for reducing the frequency of under-reported food consumption5. During ERICA, a second 24-HDR was performed in a sub-sample of adolescents, which allowed the application of statistical methods to estimate the within-person variability used for correcting the distribution of nutrients and for calculating normal consumption and prevalences of nutrient inadequacy7.

During the five-year gap between 2008-2009 (INA) and 2013-2014 (ERICA), there was an observed worsening of nutrient inadequacy, such as in calcium and vitamins A and E, which play an important role for adolescents to achieve proper growth and development. These inadequacies coexist with the high intake of nutrients related to the development of NCD7,24, in particular regarding the high consumption of sodium, saturated fat and free sugar, which reflect the increased prevalence of ultra-processed food intake, such as carbonated soft drinks, juices, uncarbonated soft drinks and low participation of healthy food markers such as milk and fruits, in the diet of this age group.

Reducing the consumption of ultra-processed foods is one of the recommendations set out in the new Guia Alimentar para População Brasileira (Dietary Guidelines for the Brazilian Population)16. These foods are associated with excessive calorie consumption and higher risk of obesity17,18. In fact, between 2008-2009 (INA) and 2013-2014 (ERICA) we observed an increase in total energy consumption and the prevalence of obesity among adolescents, which was almost double (4.9% versus 9.0%, respectively). Therefore, the results of this study confirm the importance of recommendations targeted towards reducing ultra-processed food consumption and interventions to promote healthy eating habits in adolescents.

Acknowledgements

With thanks to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) for providing the electronic data collectors, PDA (personal digital assistant), and to the Fundação Universitária José Bonifácio (FUJB) for managing the resources of the study.

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Funding: Brazilian Department of Science and Technology at the Secretariat of Science and Technology and Strategic Inputs of the Ministry of Health (Decit/SCTIE/MS) and Health Fund Sector (CT-health) at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) (FINEP Protocol 01090421 and CNPq Protocols 565037/2010-2 and 405,009/2012-7); and Research Support Foundation of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ Processes E-26/201,926/2015 and E-26/201,933/2015).

Received: September 18, 2015; Accepted: November 16, 2015

Correspondence: Amanda de Moura Souza. Instituto de Estudos em Saúde Coletiva – UFRJ. Avenida Horácio Macedo, s/n Ilha do Fundão – Cidade Universitária. 21941-598 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil. E-mail: amandamoura@msn.com

Authors’ Contribution: Design and planning of the study: LAB and GAA. Data analysis and interpretation: AMS, LAB and GAA. Development and approval of the final version of the manuscript: AMS, LAB, GAA, DTG, CLO, MMS, VSL and FAGV.

Conflict of interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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