PURPOSE: Food-assistance program users are a specific group of nutritional concern, as they are often food insufficient and have poorer diet quality compared to non-food-assistance program users. The aim of our study was to assess dietary intake of Dutch food bank recipients (n = 167) and to compare this with dietary intake of a representative sample of the general population (Dutch National Food Consumption Survey (DNFCS-all): n = 1933), including a low-socioeconomic status (SES) sample (DNFCS-low SES: n = 312), using data from the DNFCS 2007-2010.
METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, 12 food banks throughout The Netherlands participated. Food bank recipients' characteristics were assessed with a self-administered questionnaire. Dietary intake data were collected through three 24-h recalls. Habitual dietary intake (mean, percentiles, and 95% CI) was estimated for all samples. Differences between samples were determined by comparing the 95% CIs.
RESULTS: Mean age of the study population (62.9% female) was 48.6 years (SD:10.1). Mean energy intake was 1986 (95% CI 1830-2089) kcal. The majority of the Dutch food bank recipients had lower intakes than dietary reference intakes for dietary fiber, fruit, vegetables, and fish (range 86.6-99.3%), and a higher intake for saturated fat [88.1% (95% CI 84.1-98.9)]. Furthermore, mean intakes of energy, fiber, fruit, and vegetables were significantly lower in Dutch food bank recipients than in the DNFCS-all and the DNFCS-low-SES [e.g., daily mean fruit intake (g) food bank recipients 62.8 (95% CI 45.5-76.5), DNFCS-all 105.8 (95% CI 105.4-117.9), and DNFCS-low-SES 85.1 (95% CI 78.7-100.2)]. Fish intake was significantly lower compared with the DNFCS-all, but not compared with the DNFCS-low-SES.
CONCLUSIONS: Dutch food bank recipients, who largely rely on the content of food parcels, are not able to meet the nutritional guidelines for a healthy diet, and their dietary intake is poorer than the general as well as the low-SES sample of the Dutch adult population. More research is needed on how to improve the dietary intake of this vulnerable population subgroup, by, e.g., revising the content of the food parcels, and to develop effective intervention activities.
- Diet quality
- Dietary guidelines
- Dietary intake
- Food assistance
- Low-socioeconomic status
- Public health