British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Dietary sources of five nutrients in ethnic groups represented in the Multiethnic Cohort

Sangita Sharmaa1 c1, Lynne R. Wilkensa2, Lucy Shena2 and Laurence N. Kolonela2

a1 Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, 5-10 University Terrace, 8303-112 Street, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2T4

a2 Epidemiology Program, Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, University of Hawaii, 1236 Lauhala Street, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA


Data are limited on how dietary sources of energy and nutrient intakes differ among ethnic groups in the USA. The objective of the present study was to characterise dietary sources of energy, total fat, saturated fat, protein, dietary fibre and added sugar for five ethnic groups. A validated quantitative FFQ was used to collect dietary data from 186 916 men and women aged 45–75 years who were living in Hawaii and Los Angeles between 1993 and 1996. Participants represented five ethnic groups: African-American; Japanese-American; Native Hawaiian; Latino; Caucasian. The top ten dietary sources of energy contributed 36·2–49·6 % to total energy consumption, with rice and bread contributing the most (11·4–27·8 %) across all ethnic–sex groups. Major dietary sources of total fat were chicken/turkey dishes and butter among most groups. Ice cream, ice milk or frozen yogurt contributed 4·6–6·2 % to saturated fat intake across all ethnic–sex groups, except Latino-Mexico women. Chicken/turkey and bread were among the top dietary sources of protein (13·9–19·4 %). The top two sources of dietary fibre were bread and cereals (18·1–22 %) among all groups, except Latino-Mexico men. Regular sodas contributed the most to added sugar consumption. The present study provides, for the first time, data on the major dietary sources of energy, fat, saturated fat, protein, fibre and added sugar for these five ethnic groups in the USA. Such data are valuable for identifying target foods for nutritional intervention programmes and directing public health strategies aimed at reducing dietary risk factors for chronic disease.

(Received February 23 2012)

(Revised June 08 2012)

(Accepted June 19 2012)

(Online publication September 05 2012)

Key Words:

  • Dietary sources;
  • Nutrients;
  • Ethnicity;
  • Multiethnic Cohort


c1 Corresponding author: Dr S. Sharma, fax +1 780 248 1611, email


  Abbreviations: AfAm, African–American; CSFII, Continuing Surveys of Food Intakes by Individuals; JpAm, Japanese-American; MEC, Multiethnic Cohort; NH, Native Hawaiians; QFFQ, quantitative FFQ; USDA, US Department of Agriculture