Longitudinal trajectories and prevalence of meeting dietary guidelines during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood

Mary J. Christoph, Nicole I. Larson, Megan R. Winkler, Melanie M. Wall, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Establishing healthy dietary habits during adolescence and young adulthood is critical for long-term health. OBJECTIVES: This study assessed the prevalence of meeting US Dietary Guidelines and trajectories in dietary intake for 4 MyPlate food groups during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. METHODS: Three waves of surveys and food frequency questionnaires were collected as part of Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults), a 15-y longitudinal study. Adolescents (n = 1177, 57% female, mean ± SD age 15.0 ± 1.5 y) were recruited in 1998-1999 in Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota public schools and were resurveyed twice in young adulthood at mean ± SD ages 25.3 ± 1.5 and 31.1 ± 1.5 y. The prevalence of meeting guidelines for each MyPlate food group was calculated at each time point. Mean daily servings were compared over 5 y in young adulthood through the use of paired t tests. Adjusted least-squares means were calculated to compare dietary intake in young adulthood across quartiles of adolescent intake. RESULTS: Adolescents had the highest prevalence of meeting dietary guidelines for fruit (37% for females and 30% for males) and dairy (53% for females and 61% for males); young adults >30 y had the highest prevalence of meeting dietary guidelines for vegetables (19% for females and 8% for males) and whole grains (23% for females and 17% for males). From the mid-twenties to early thirties, vegetable intake increased, whereas dairy intake decreased. Dietary intake generally tracked over time with individuals in the lower quartiles of intake at adolescence generally continuing to have low intake in young adulthood. CONCLUSIONS: Although the prevalence of meeting dietary guidelines for whole grains and vegetables, and daily servings of vegetables increased with age, improving intake of whole fruit, whole grains, dairy, and vegetables remains key during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)656-664
Number of pages9
JournalThe American journal of clinical nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant number R01HL116892 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Principal Investigator (PI): DN-S]. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) or the National Institutes of Health. MJC was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under National Research Service Award (NRSA) in Primary Medical Care, grant number T32HP22239 (PI: Iris Borowsky). MRW is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, grant number T32DK083250 (PI: R Jeffery). This information or content and conclusions are those of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by the National Institutes of Health, HRSA, HHS, or the US Government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Society for Nutrition.


  • adolescents
  • diet
  • diet trajectories
  • longitudinal
  • nutrition
  • young adults

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.


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