Preschool children attending Well Baby Clinics directed by the Public Health Department of San Bernardino, California, were the sub jects in this study. The purpose of the study was (1) to compare the eating pattern and habits of the preschool children attending the San Bernardino Public Health Clinics, (2) to assess any differences in the dietary intake of the three major ethnic groups, namely, Mexican- Americans, Whites, and Blacks, and (3) to determine the adequacy of the dietary intake of the preschool children attending the San Bernardino Clinics. One hundred and seventy-seven subjects in this study included 51 Mexican-Americans, 74 Whites, and 52 Blacks.

Statistical analysis showed no differences between Mexican- Americans and Blacks in the size of the family and the number of children in the family. Statistical differences were shown for the size of the family (p<0.025) and the number of children in the family (p<0.005) for the White group when compared to Mexican-Americans and Blacks.

In observing the eating patterns and habits, Black children ate meals with the family less frequently than any other group. The three ethnic groups conformed to the three-meal-a-day pattern. Snacking among children was prevalent.

The conventional-type breakfast foods such as eggs, fruits and fruit juices, bread and cereals, were eaten frequently by the preschool children. Differences were seen in the consumption of milk (highest for Whites, lowest for Blacks). Eggs and starchy foods were eaten by a large percent of Mexican-Americans and sparingly by Whites and Blacks. Meat consumption was highest for Blacks. Beans were favored by more Mexican-Americans than Blacks or Whites.

Foods eaten daily at dinner by the preschool children were similar to those eaten for lunch. These included milk, meat, fresh or frozen vegetables, starchy foods, and bread. The same food preferences were observed within each group throughout the three meals and snacks.

Traditionally, snacks for children of this age are dessert-type foods. In this study milk, fruits, and bread were favored over dessert-type foods at snack-time. Ice cream and other desserts were eaten several times during the week.

The mean hemoglobin level of all subjects was 12.4 grams per 100 mls of blood, a value considered normal for children. No significant differences were observed for the hemoglobin level of the three groups. This could be due to the fact that a large percentage of the children attending these clinics received vitamins With iron medication. However, hemoglobin levels below standard were also observed in every group.

The dietary intake of most of the preschool children was adequate in milk (2-3 servings), meat (2 servings), bread and cereal (4 servings). The White children had a higher mean intake (4.32 servings) of vegetables as compared to" the Mexican-Americans (3.74 servings) and Blacks (3.90 servings). This difference was not statistically significant.; However, a high percentage of the Blacks (38.0 percent) and Mexican-Americans (35.0,percent) had below-standard intake from the vegetable and fruit group. This difference has nutritional significance.

It was concluded that family customs did not seem to affect the nutritional intake of the preschool children, although this may have affected some of the children's food preference within each group.


Graduate School

First Advisor

Irma B. Vyhmeister

Second Advisor

Siegrid A. Centerwall

Third Advisor

Roland L. Phillips

Fourth Advisor

Grenith J. Zimmerman

Fifth Advisor

Kathleen K. Zolber

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Community Health Centers -- California; Child Nutrition



Page Count

vii; 60

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

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Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives