Changes in dietary intake of major nutrients and food sources among costa rican adolescents in the last 20 years

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Nutrition








Adolescents; Cardiometabolic syndrome; Cardiovascular disease; Costa Rica; Dietary intake


© The Author(s) on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition 2020. Background: Adolescence offers a window of opportunity to prevent adult obesity and noncommunicable disease risk factors.With the rising prevalence of adolescent obesity over the last 20 y, identifying any changes in dietary risk factors is crucial. Objectives:We aimed to assess the dietary intake of major nutrients and their food sources in Costa Rican adolescents from 1996 to 2017. Methods: Means from 3-d food records from adolescents (ages 13-18 y) living in San José (the province with the highest concentration of adolescents in Costa Rica) were obtained in 1996 (n = 276), 2006 (n = 133), and 2017 (n = 818). Differences in consumption of major nutrients and selected food groups by sex and survey period were tested using age- and area-adjusted ANOVAs. Results: In 2017, adolescents consumed significantly (P < 0.05) less saturated and trans fats [saturated: -3.2% of total energy (TE); trans: -1.4% TE], vegetables (-24 g/d), beans (-42 g/d), and white rice (22 g/d) than in 1996. The 2017 adolescents also reported significantly higher consumption of unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs: Up from 8.2% to 15.3% TE; PUFAs: Up from 5.5% to 9.5% TE; P < 0.05), sugary drinks (+134 g/d), pastries/desserts (+55 g/d), other refined starchy foods (+36 g/d), and snacks/fast foods (+26 g/d) than their 1996 counterparts. In 1996 and 2006, themain source of calories was white rice, whereas in 2017, it was sugary drinks (12% TE and 15% TE, respectively; P < 0.05). The intake ratio of beans to white rice was significantly higher in 1996 (1:1.6) than in 2017 (1:3.5). Conclusions: The changes in the intake of major nutrients and food sources of Costa Rican adolescents present new public health challenges for cardiometabolic risk prevention. Costa Rica should prioritize the design of comprehensive strategies that target added sugar intake while simultaneously increasing access to and promotion of healthful items.