Previous nutrient demand and consumption analyses show that several economic and sociodemographic variables are often associated with intakes. However, most of the literature does not account for differences among individuals within households. This study reviewed possible definitions of nutrient differences with respect to nutritional needs. Nutrient levels defined by the Thrifty Food Plan were used as subsistence levels for households in the 1977-78 Nationwide Food Consumption Survey. Probit analysis showed that the usual variables found related to nutrient intakes did not differentiate among subsistence groups. Household life cycle and working female heads influenced whether the household was under its requirement level.