Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

A cross-cultural comparison of dietary intakes and physical activity between American and Czech school-aged children

Lenka Humenikova Shrivera1 c1 and Gail Gatesa1

a1 311 Human Environmental Sciences, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA


Objective The prevalence of child overweight in the Czech Republic is substantially lower than that in the USA. The objective of the present pilot study was to explore dietary intakes, frequency of dining in fast-food establishments, and the amount and intensity of physical activity between a sample of American and Czech children.

Design A cross-sectional correlational pilot study.

Setting Four public schools in the USA and four public schools in the Czech Republic.

Subjects Ninety-five Czech and forty-four American 4–6th graders from urban public schools participated in the study. Dietary intake and number of fast-food visits were evaluated using two multiple-pass 24 h recalls. Physical activity was measured using the modified Self-Administered Physical Activity Checklist.

Results American children (mean age 10·8 (se 0·2) years) consumed more energy and fat, less fruits and vegetables, more soft drinks, and visited fast-food establishments more often than Czech children (mean age 11·0 (se 0·1) years). Although no differences were found in vigorous activity by nationality, Czech children spent significantly more time in moderate physical activities than American children.

Conclusions Despite the influx of some negative Western dietary trends into the country, Czech children had a healthier diet and were more physically active than American children. Further research is warranted to determine whether the same differences in dietary intakes, physical activity and fast-food visits exist between nationally representative samples of American and Czech children.

(Received May 29 2007)

(Accepted July 07 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Email