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Difference in adult food group intake by sex and age groups comparing Brazil and United States nationwide surveys

Ilana Nogueira Bezerra1*, Joseph Goldman2, Donna G Rhodes2, Mary Katherine Hoy2, Amanda de Moura Souza3, Deirdra N Chester4, Carrie L Martin2, Rhonda S Sebastian2, Jaspreet K Ahuja2, Rosely Sichieri3 and Alanna J Moshfegh2

Author Affiliations

1 Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Curso de Nutrição, Universidade de Fortaleza (UNIFOR), Av. Washington Soares 1321, sala C04 Edson Queiroz, Fortaleza, Brazil

2 Food Surveys Research Group, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, 10300 Baltimore Ave. Building 005, BARC West, 20705 Baltimore, Beltsville, MD, USA

3 Department of Epidemiology, Institute of Social Medicine, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Rua São Francisco Xavier, 524, 7° andar, Bloco E, Cep 20550–012, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

4 United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Stop 2201, Washington, DC, 20250–2201, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2014, 13:74  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-74

Published: 21 July 2014



International comparisons of dietary intake are an important source of information to better understand food habits and their relationship to nutrition related diseases. The objective of this study is to compare food intake of Brazilian adults with American adults identifying possible dietary factors associated with the increase in obesity in Brazil.


This research used cross-national analyses between the United States and Brazil, including 5,420 adults in the 2007–2008 What We Eat In America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and 26,390 adults in the 2008–2009 Brazilian Household Budget Survey, Individual Food Intake. Dietary data were collected through 24 h recalls in the U.S. and through food records in Brazil. Foods and beverages were combined into 25 food categories. Food intake means and percentage of energy contribution by food categories to the population’s total energy intake were compared between the countries.


Higher frequencies of intake were reported in the United States compared to Brazil for the majority of food categories except for meat, rice and rice dishes; beans and legumes; spreads; and coffee and tea. In either country, young adults (20-39 yrs) had greater reports of meat, poultry and fish mixed dishes; pizza and pasta; and soft drinks compared to older adults (60 + yrs). Meat, poultry and fish mixed dishes (13%), breads (11%), sweets and confections (8%), pizza and pasta (7%), and dairy products (6%) were the top five food category sources of energy intake among American adults. The top five food categories in Brazil were rice and rice dishes (13%), meat (11%), beans and legumes (10%), breads (10%), and coffee and tea (6%). Thus, traditional plant-based foods such as rice and beans were important contributors in the Brazilian diet.


Although young adults had higher reports of high-calorie and nutrient-poor foods than older adults in both countries, Brazilian young adults did not consume a diet similar to Americans, indicating that it is still possible to reverse the current trends of incorporating Western dietary habits in Brazil.

Diet; Food groups; Dietary surveys; Brazilian and American diet; Food habits