This cross-sectional study evaluated diet quality and weight status in 248 randomly selected low-income urban children, aged 7 to 13 years, who were participating in a larger study on the effectiveness of multivitamin supplementation on school performance. Food frequency questionnaires were used to determine intake of total calories and food groups, selected micronutrients, and amount and percent of calories from sweets. Results were compared to age-appropriate recommendations of the Food Guide Pyramid and to the Dietary Reference Intakes. Height, weight, and ages obtained from current-year student health records were used to calculate body mass index (calculated as kg/m(2)) percentile for age. Of 193 participants with usable food frequencies and available weight, height, sex, and age, 22% (n=43) were at risk for overweight and 36% (n=69) were overweight. More than 75% of participants failed to meet recommended servings for grains, vegetables, dairy, and fruit groups, and mean intake of each of these food groups was significantly less than recommendations (P<0.001). Twenty-five percent or more of subjects did not meet Recommended Dietary Allowances for iron and folate. Mean intake of calcium was below the Adequate Intake for calcium and 76% of children 8 years old and younger and 93% of children 9 years old and older did not meet the Adequate Intake for calcium. Mean calorie intake was 1,723 kcal (standard deviation+/-924) and mean percent of calories from carbohydrate, protein, and fat was 57%, 13%, and 32%, respectively. No correlation was found between total calories, total dietary sugar, or percent of calories from sweets and body mass index. Results of this study suggest that these urban children may be "at risk," based on the high percentage who are overweight and have insufficient food group consumption and micronutrient intake.