The unhealthy dietary patterns in the USA especially among low-income households demand complex strategies for health promotion. The present paper analysed the proximate determinants of 7 d food use by 919 participants in the National Food Stamp Program Survey conducted in 1996. The householdsʹ consumption of dietary energy, carbohydrate, protein, fibre, saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, Ca, Fe, (beta)-carotene and vitamin C were explained by background, socioeconomic and behavioural factors. Certain methodological issues arising in modelling food use data were addressed. The results showed that the subjectsʹ knowledge of the US Department of Agriculture food pyramid, reading nutrition labels, adopting a lowfat diet, selecting fruits and vegetables, saving money at grocery stores and frequency of shopping trips were often significantly associated (P<0·05) with the densities of nutrient use. The results identified certain aspects of nutrition education programmes that deserve greater emphasis for improving diet quality. The model for energy intake indicated that disbursing half the food stamp benefits on a 2-week basis and better shopping practices can enhance food availability.
Diet , poverty , Behavioural factors , hunger , Food stamps