The definitions used in this survey are not necessarily identical to those used for similar items in other collections. Additional information is contained in the Australian Health Survey(AHS): Users' Guide, 2011-13 (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001).
24-hour dietary recall
This was the methodology used to collect detailed information on food and nutrient intake. The 24-hour dietary recall collected a list of all foods, beverages and supplements consumed the previous day from midnight to midnight, and the amount consumed. For more information, see the 24-hour Dietary Recall of the AHS: Users' Guide, 2011-13 (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001).
The term 'alcohol' is commonly used to refer to alcoholic beverages. However, in the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS), alcohol refers to pure alcohol (or ethanol), which, as a macronutrient, contributes 29 kJ per gram.
The 'Alcoholic beverages' food group includes beers, wines, spirits, cider and other alcoholic beverages.
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) is a plant-based omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid which is considered a small but important component of dietary intake in relation to helping reduce coronary heart disease risk.
See AUSNUT 2011-13 and also Nutrient Database
Australian Health Survey (AHS)
The Australian Health Survey 2011-13 is composed of three separate surveys:
- National Health Survey (NHS) 2011-12
- National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS) 2011-12
- National Health Measures Survey (NHMS) 2011-12.
In addition to this, the AHS Survey contains a Core dataset, which is produced from questions that are common to both the NHS and NNPAS. See About the Australian Health Survey
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy needed for a minimal set of functions necessary for life over a defined period of time. BMR is given in kilojoules (kJ) per 24 hours and is calculated using age, sex and weight (kg). For more information, see the Nutrient Intake chapter of the AHS: Users' Guide, 2011-13 (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001).
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify underweight, normal weight, overweight and obesity. It is calculated from height and weight information, using the formula weight (kg) divided by the square of height (m). To produce a measure of the prevalence of underweight, normal weight, overweight or obesity in adults, BMI values are grouped according to the table below which allows categories to be reported against both the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines.
BODY MASS INDEX, Adults
|Underweight||Less than 18.50|
|18.50 — 24.99|
25.00 — 29.99
|Obese||30.00 or more|
Separate BMI classifications were produced for children. BMI scores were created in the same manner described above but also took into account the age and sex of the child. There are different cut-offs for BMI categories (underweight/normal combined, overweight or obese) for male and female children. These categories differ to the categories used in the adult BMI classification and follow the scale provided in Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM and Dietz WH, Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey
, BMJ 2000; 320. For a detailed list of the cut-offs used to calculate BMI for children see the AHS: Users' Guide (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001) chapter on Body Mass and Physical Measurements
and Appendix 4: Classification of BMI for children
Calcium is a mineral required for the growth and maintenance of the bones and teeth, as well as the proper functioning of the muscular and cardiovascular systems.
Carbohydrates usually provide the major part of energy in human diets. Carbohydrates are comprised of the elements of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Data for total carbohydrates include starch, sugars and related substances (sugar alcohols and oligosaccharides). Sugar alcohols and oligosaccharides are included in 'Total carbohydrates' but not in starch and sugar sub-totals. Therefore, total carbohydrate does not always equal the the sum of sugars and starch.
Cereal based products and dishes
The 'Cereal based products and dishes' food group contains biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, dumplings, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, and pasta and rice mixed dishes.
Cereals and cereal products
The 'Cereals and Cereal Products' food group includes grains, flours, bread and bread rolls, plain pasta, noodles and rice, and breakfast cereals.
Combination codes were used to indicate whether the food was combined with another food prior to consumption. One of the following combination codes was assigned to each food:
0. Not applicable
1. Beverage with additions
2. Cereal with additions
3. Bread/baked products with additions
5. Sandwiches/wraps/rolls with fillings
7. Frozen meal
8. Ice cream/frozen yoghurt with additions
9. Vegetables with additions
10. Fruit with additions
12. Meat, poultry, fish
99. Other mixtures
Confectionery and cereal/nut/fruit/seed bars
The 'Confectionery and cereal/nut/fruit/seed bars' food group includes chocolate, fruit, nut and seed bars and muesli or cereal style bars.
A respondent who reported consumption of any non-zero amount (applies to foods or nutrients).
Day 1 / Day 2 intake
Day 1 intake refers to information collected from the first 24-hour dietary recall, while Day 2 refers to information from the second 24-hour recall. In the 2011-12 NNPAS, Day 1 intake information was collected from all respondents, with a second 24-hour recall (Day 2) collected from around 64% of respondents. Nutrient intakes derived from 24-hour recall data do not represent the usual intake of a person because there is variation in day to day intakes. The second 24-hour recall is used to estimate and remove within-person variation in order to derive a usual nutrient intake distribution for the population. Usual nutrient intakes represent intakes over a long period of time.
Dairy & meat substitutes
The 'Dairy & meat substitutes' food group includes milk substitutes, cheese and meat substitutes, soy based ice cream and yoghurts and dishes where meat substitutes are the major components e.g. Tofu curry and Tofu and vegetable curry.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines use the best available scientific evidence to provide information on the types and amounts of foods, food groups and dietary patterns that aim to:
- promote health and wellbeing
- reduce the risk of diet-related conditions
- reduce the risk of chronic disease.
The Guidelines are for use by health professionals, policy makers, educators, food manufacturers, food retailers and researchers.
The content of the Australian Dietary Guidelines applies to all healthy Australians, as well as those with common diet-related risk factors such as being overweight. They do not apply to people who need special dietary advice for a medical condition, or to the frail elderly.
For the purpose of the AHS, dietary supplements refer to products defined as Complementary Medicines under the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990 and that are not intended for inhalation or use on the skin. They include products containing ingredients that are nutrients, such as multivitamin or fish oil products.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines describes discretionary foods as being: “foods and drinks not necessary to provide the nutrients the body needs, but that may add variety. However, many of these are high in saturated fats, sugars, salt and/or alcohol, and are therefore described as energy dense. They can be included sometimes in small amounts by those who are physically active, but are not a necessary part of the diet”. For more information, see the Discretionary Foods chapter of the AHS: Users' Guide, 2011-13 (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001).
Discretionary salt is the salt added to food, either at the table or during the cooking/preparation. It does not include salt (or salt containing ingredients) added during manufacturing of processed foods or as required for chemical reasons, for example in bread baking.
Respondents in the 24-hour dietary recall were asked to state what the eating occasion was for each food consumed, for example breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner.
Egg products and dishes
The 'Egg products and dishes' food group includes eggs and dishes where eggs are the major component e.g. omelettes, frittatas and souffles.
Energy, measured in kilojoules (kJ), is required by the body for metabolic processes, physiological functions, muscular activity, heat production and growth and development. All energy reported in the 2011-12 NNPAS is energy including that from dietary fibre.
Energy Intake to Basal Metabolic Rate Ratio (EI:BMR)
Estimated Average Requirement (EAR)
|The ratio of energy intake to basal metabolic rate (BMR) is estimated on the basis of weight, age and sex. This ratio has been used to develop cut-off limits for implausibly low intakes. When energy intakes equal energy expenditure, EI:BMR approximates the physical activity level. |
The Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) of a particular nutrient is the level of that nutrient estimated to meet the requirements of the average healthy individual in a particular life stage and gender group. See Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand.
Fat provides a significant amount of dietary energy and is also a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins and the source of essential fatty acids. It is the most energy dense of the macronutrients. The three fatty acid subtotals do not add up to total fat because total fat includes a contribution from the non-fatty acid components.
Fats and Oils
The 'Fats and Oils' group includes butters, dairy blends, margarines and other fats, such as animal-based fats.
Fatty acids are units of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen which combine with glycerine to form fat. Most foods contain a mixture of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids.
Fish and seafood products and dishes
The 'Fish and seafood products and dishes' food group includes fresh and tinned seafood, shellfish and mixed dishes with fish or seafood as the main component e.g. salmon mornay, fish curry and prawn cocktail.
In this publication, folate refers specifically to the naturally-occurring form of folate (tetrahydrofolate or THF).
Folate is a B group vitamin that is essential for healthy growth and development, which is important during pregnancy to help prevent the incidence of neural tube defects (such as spina bifida) in babies. Folate intake is measured in folate equivalents to take into account the higher bioavailability of folic acid (pteroyl glutamic acid, or PGA, the form used in food fortification and supplements) than natural folate (tetrahydrofolate, or THF, the form found in foods and in the body). Folate equivalents = 1.67*folic acid + natural folate.
Total folate includes both folic acid (pteroyl glutamic acid, or PGA) and its derivatives (tetrahydrofolate, or THF, the naturally-occuring forms of folate), all of which have similar functions in the body. Total folate is calculated as the sum of folic acid and folate, without any adjustment for their differing bioavailabilities.
Folic acid (pteroyl glutamic acid, or PGA) is the form of folate used in supplements and for food fortification as it is more stable than the naturally-occurring forms in foods. It is more bioavailable than the naturally-occurring forms of folate. As of 2009, all wheat flour for baking (including all products baked commercially, such as English muffins, bread rolls, and bagels) is fortified with folic acid.
Food classification or Food groups
Food and beverages reported by respondents in the 24-hour dietary recall were collected and coded at a detailed level, but for output purposes are categorised within a food classification with Major (2-digit), Sub-major (3-digit), and Minor group (5-digit) levels. The classification was developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand, along with the Nutrient Database, specifically for the Australian Health Survey. At the broadest level (the Major group) there are 24 groups. These groups were designed to categorise foods that share a major component or common feature. Because many foods are in fact mixtures of different ingredients, the food groups will not exclusively contain the main food of that group.
Fortification refers to adding vitamins and minerals to food. When there is determined to be a significant public health need, food manufacturers may be required to add certain vitamins or minerals to specified foods (mandatory fortification). In Australia, mandatory fortification of foods includes iodised salt used in all bread, thiamin and folic acid added to wheat flour for baking bread, and vitamin D added to edible oil spreads such as margarine. See Food Standards Australia New Zealand: Fortification
Fruit products and dishes
The 'Fruit products and dishes' food group includes fresh, dried and preserved fruit, as well as mixed dishes where fruit is the major component, for example apple crumble or banana split.
'Haram' was among the list of response options for respondents who said that they avoided particular foods due to cultural, religious or ethical reasons. In this context haram refers to foods which may be considered forbidden in Islam such as alcohol, pork or other non-halal foods.
Health risk factors
Specific lifestyle and related factors impacting on health, including:
- tobacco smoking
- physical activity
- body mass
- dietary behaviour
- blood pressure.
Intense sweeteners are added to food to provide sweetness without contributing significantly to the energy level (kilojoules). These food additives are substituted for sugar in some foods and beverages as a way to lower the kilojoule or carbohydrate level.
Iodine is a nutrient essential for the production of thyroid hormones, which are essential for normal growth and development, particularly of the brain. Since October 2009, regulations have required that salt with added iodine (iodised salt) be used in all bread (except organic bread and bread mixes for making bread at home) in Australia.
Iron is a mineral essential for the oxygen carrying ability of red blood cells.
Infant formulae and foods
The 'Infant formulae and foods' food group includes infant formulae, and infant cereal, food and drink products
Linoleic acid is a particular type of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid associated with blood lipid profiles seen as having a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Legume and pulse products and dishes
The 'Legume and pulse products and dishes' food group includes legumes and pulses e.g. baked beans, chickpeas, split peas, lentils and dishes where legumes are the major component, for example dhal and falafel.
Major food group
The Major food group is the broadest level classification for food consumption data (i.e. 2-digit level). The food classification is available in Excel spreadsheet format in the Downloads page of of the AHS: Users' Guide, 2011-13 (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001).
Margin of Error (MoE)
Margin of Error describes the distance from the population value that the sample estimate is likely to be within, and is specified at a given level of confidence. Confidence levels typically used are 90%, 95% and 99%. For example, at the 95% confidence level the MoE indicates that there are about 19 chances in 20 that the estimate will differ by less than the specified MoE from the population value (the figure obtained if the entire population had been enumerated). In this publication, MoE has only been provided for the proportions and averages tables. For more information see the Technical notes of this publication.
The mean is the sum of the value of each observation in a dataset divided by the number of observations. This is also known as the arithmetic average. The mean is a useful single statistic used in this publication because it summarises consumption on a per person basis (including non-consumers, i.e. zero amounts). It is most commonly used because mean amounts of individual foods can be aggregated, that is the individual means for each food within a group will sum to the higher (parent) level food group.
Meat, poultry and games products and dishes
The 'Meat, poultry and games products and dishes' food group includes beef, sheep, pork, poultry, sausages, processed meat (e.g. salami) and mixed dishes where meat or poultry is the major component e.g. casseroles, curried sausages and chicken stir-fry.
The median is the middle value in distribution when the values are arranged in ascending or descending order. The median divides the distribution in half (there are 50% of observations on either side of the median value). In a distribution with an odd number of observations, the median value is the middle value. In contrast to means which tend to be skewed to the right due to small numbers of large consumers, the median is not influenced by large individual values beyond the middle of the distribution. These features make the median value most useful in this publication when comparing amounts eaten of different foods or the same food eaten by different population sub-groups. However, because medians are only relevant to consumers, it may also be useful to know what proportion of the population were consumers to give some prevalence context for the consumption.
Milk products and dishes
The 'Milk products and dishes' food group includes milk, yoghurt, cream, cheese, custards, ice cream, milk shakes, smoothies and dishes where milk is the major component e.g. cheesecake, rice pudding and creme brulee.
Minor food group
The minor food group is the most detailed level (5-digit level) group in the classification for food consumption data. The food classification is available in Excel spreadsheet format in the Downloads page of of the AHS Users' Guide, 2011-13 (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001).
The 'Miscellaneous' food group includes yeast, and spreadable yeast extract, intense sweeteners, herbs, spices and seasonings.
Monounsaturated fat or monounsaturated fatty acids are a type of fat predominantly found in plant-based foods, although there are exceptions.
National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS)
The National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey focused on collecting information on:
- dietary behaviour and food avoidance (including 24-hour dietary recall)
- selected medical conditions that had lasted, or were expected to last for six months or more
- cardiovascular and circulatory conditions
- diabetes and high sugar levels
- kidney disease
- blood pressure
- female life stages
- physical activity and sedentary behaviour (including 8 day pedometer component)
- use of tobacco
- physical measurements (height, weight and waist circumference).
The 'Non-alcoholic beverages' food group includes tea, coffee, juices, cordials, soft drinks, energy drinks and water.
See Body Mass Index (BMI).
The Nutrient Database used to derive energy and nutrient estimates for the 24-hour dietary recall data was developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. See AUSNUT 2011-13
See Body Mass Index (BMI).
See Body Mass Index (BMI).
Percentage contribution to energy intake
This refers to the proportion of energy that a food or macronutrient contributes to each person's total energy intake. The energy from each of these nutrients was estimated by multiplying each gram of a particular nutrient by a conversion factor to determine the kilojoules (kJ) of energy. For more information, see the Nutrient Intake chapter of the AHS: Users' Guide, 2011-13 (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001).
Polyunsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fatty acids are a type of fat predominantly found in plant-based foods, although there are exceptions. Linoleic acid, alpha linolenic acid, long chain omega 3 fatty acids, and other polyunsaturated fatty acids are included in the polyunsaturated fatty acid total.
Preformed Vitamin A
Preformed vitamin A or retinol is the form of vitamin A found in animal-derived food, such as meat, dairy products, and eggs.
Pro Vitamin A
Pro vitamin A is the form of vitamin A found predominantly in dark green and orange vegetables. Where information on levels of carotenes other than beta carotene in foods was available, this has been included in the pro vitamin A total as beta carotene equivalents, according to the equation pro vitamin A = beta carotene + 0.5*alpha carotene + 0.5*cryptoxanthin. This equation takes into account the differing biological activities of the different forms of pro vitamin A.
Protein supplies essential amino acids and is also a source of energy. Protein can be supplied from animal or vegetable matter, though individual vegetable proteins do not contain all the essential amino acids required by the body. They may be limited in one of these essential amino acids.
Recommended usual intake of fruit
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommend levels of daily fruit intake to ensure good nutrition and health. Fruit intake has been grouped in the table below to allow results to be reported against the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines. A serve is approximately 150 grams of fresh fruit, half a cup of fruit juice (no added sugar) or 30 grams of dried fruit.*
RECOMMENDED DAILY SERVES OF FRUIT, by age
*Note, while the NHMRC 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines allow fruit juice to be used occasionally as one of the daily serves of fruit, the AHS only collected usual serves of fruit (excluding juice).
Recommended usual intake of vegetables
National Health and Medical Research Council recommend levels of daily vegetable intake to ensure good nutrition and health. Vegetable intake has been grouped in the table below to allow results to be reported against the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines.
A serve is approximately half a cup of cooked vegetables or legumes/beans or one cup of salad vegetables - equivalent to around 75 grams.*
RECOMMENDED DAILY SERVES OF VEGETABLES, by age
|Age||Vegetables for males||Vegetables for females|
*Note, while the Australian Dietary Guidelines include servings of legumes and beans in the recommendations for vegetable intake, the AHS only collected usual serves of vegetables (excluding legumes).
**Note, the recommended usual intake of vegetables for breastfeeding women is 7.5 serves and for pregnant women is 5 serves, however these population groups have not been separated in the nutrient data output.
Relative Standard Error (RSE)
The standard error expressed as a percentage of the estimate. For more information see the Technical notes in this publication.
Saturated fat or saturated fatty acids are a type of fat predominantly found in animal-based foods, although there are exceptions. Saturated fat is the total of all saturated fatty acids, that is all fatty acids without any double bonds.
Savoury sauces and condiments
The 'Savoury sauces and condiments' food group includes gravies and sauces, pickles, chutneys and relishes, salad dressings, stuffings and dips.
Seed and nut products and dishes
The 'Seed and nut products and dishes' food group includes seeds and seed products, and nuts and nut products
The 'Snack foods' food group includes potato chips, popcorn, corn chips, cheese and bacon balls and pretzels.
Sodium occurs in a number of different forms but is generally consumed as sodium chloride (commonly known as 'salt').
The 'Soup' food group includes homemade, dry and canned soups as well as soups purchased ready to eat.
Special dietary foods
The 'Special dietary foods' food group includes formula dietary foods e.g. protein powders, meal replacement shakes and meal replacement bars.
Sub-major food group
The Sub-major food group is the second level (i.e. 3-digit level) of the classification for the food consumption data. The food classification is available in Excel spreadsheet format in the Downloads page of the AHS: Users' Guide, 2011-13 (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001).
Sugar products and dishes
The 'Sugar products and dishes' food group includes sugar, honey, syrups, jam, chocolate spreads and sauces and dishes and products other than confectionery where sugar is the major component e.g. pavlova and meringue.
Thiamin is a B group vitamin that helps the body to convert food to energy for the brain, nervous system and muscles. Wheat flour for bread making is fortified with thiamin in Australia.
Total Long Chain Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Long chain omega 3 fatty acids are a particular type of omega 3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid, docosapentanoic acid, and docosahaexanoic acid) with cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits. They are found in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna and herring.
Under-reporting refers to the tendency (bias) of respondents to underestimate their food intake in self-reported dietary surveys. It includes actual changes in foods eaten because people know they will be asked about them, and misrepresentation (deliberate, unconscious or accidental), e.g. to make their diets appear more ‘healthy’ or be quicker to report.
See Body Mass Index (BMI).
Upper Level of Intake (UL)
The Upper Level of Intake (UL) of a nutrient is the highest average daily intake level that is likely to pose no adverse health effects. Nutrient intakes above the UL have a potentially increased risk of adverse effects. See Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand.
Usual intakes represent food and nutrient intake over a long period of time. For a single person, dietary intake varies day to day. A single 24-hour dietary recall does not represent the usual, or long term, intake of a person because of this variation. In the 2011-12 NNPAS, all respondents were asked for follow-up contact phone details in order to conduct a second 24-hour recall over the phone at least 8 days later. A second 24-hour recall was collected from about 64% of respondents. The second 24-hour recall is used to estimate and remove within-person variation in order to derive a usual nutrient intake distribution for the population.
Vegetable products and dishes
The 'Vegetable products and dishes' food group includes vegetables and dishes where vegetables are the major component. e.g. salad or vegetable casserole.
Vitamins are organic compounds required in small amounts from the diet for normal growth and metabolic processes.
Vitamin A retinol equivalent
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin which helps maintain normal reproduction, vision, and immune function. Vitamin A intake is measured in retinol equivalents to reflect the contribution of pro vitamin A and preformed vitamin A, using the equation: vitamin A retinol equivalent = retinol + beta carotene/6 + alpha carotene/12 + cryptoxanthin/12. The equation takes into account the differing biological activities of the different forms of vitamin A.
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, has a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and the formation of blood. Almost all vitamin B12 comes from animal foods, such as meat and dairy products, although some is added to some plant-based foods such as vegetarian meat replacements.
This page last updated 2 July 2014