4364.0.55.012 - Australian Health Survey: Consumption of Food Groups from the Australian Dietary Guidelines, 2011-12  
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KEY FINDINGS

The 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG or the Guidelines) include the Guideline that Australians “Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the Five Food Groups every day and drink plenty of water” where the food groups are:

  • Vegetables and legumes/beans
  • Fruit
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives
  • Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans (lean meats and alternatives)
  • Grain (cereal) foods

The Guidelines include minimum recommended numbers of serves that the population should usually consume to satisfy their nutrient requirements and minimise diet related chronic disease risk.1


ARE AUSTRALIANS MEETING THE GUIDELINES?

Most Australians did not usually meet their recommended minimum number of serves for any of the Five Food Groups from non-discretionary food sources.

Vegetables and legumes/beans group
  • Overall, Australians aged two years and over consumed an average of 2.7 serves of vegetables and legumes/beans per day, with less than 4% of the population meeting the recommended number of serves.
  • Adults (aged 19 years and over) had an average of 3.0 serves of vegetables and legumes/beans per day with less than 4% usually consuming the minimum recommended number of serves.
  • Children aged 2-18 years averaged 1.8 serves per day and less than 1% usually consumed their recommended number of vegetable serves.

Fruit group
  • Around 1.5 serves of fruit (including fruit juice and dried fruit) were consumed on average by Australians two years and over, with fruit consumed fresh or canned contributing around 1 serve, and fruit juice and dried fruit 0.5 serve.
  • Children on average consumed more serves of fruit than adults (1.7 compared with 1.5).
  • Nearly one third of Australians aged two years and over (31%) met the recommendation for fruit, males more likely to meet the recommendation than females (33% compared with 28%).

Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives group
  • On average, Australians aged two years and over consumed 1.5 serves of milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives per day.
  • One in ten (10%) Australians aged two years and over met the recommended number of serves of dairy and alternatives.
  • One in fourteen (7.2%) females met their recommended number of serves for dairy and alternatives compared with one in eight males (12%).

Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans group
  • The average consumption of lean meats and alternatives was around 1.7 serves per day for persons aged two years and over.
  • Around 14% of Australians met the recommended consumption of lean meats and alternatives.
  • Adults were more likely to meet their recommended number of serves of lean meats and alternatives than children (18% compared with 4.5%).

Grain (Cereal) foods group
  • On average, Australians aged two years and over consumed around 4.5 serves of grain (cereal) foods.
  • Almost one in three Australians (30%) met the recommended guidelines for grain (cereal) foods.
  • Males were more likely to meet the guidelines for grain (cereal) foods than females (35% compared with 25%).


DO AUSTRALIANS DRINK PLENTY OF WATER?

The Guidelines also include the recommendation that Australians consume plenty of water. In 2011-12, the average amount of plain water, either tap or bottled, consumed by Australians was 1,064ml. An additional 325ml of water was consumed from non-discretionary beverages such as tea and coffee. Plain water contributed around half (50%) of Australians’ total beverage consumption.


WHAT ABOUT DISCRETIONARY FOODS?

The Guidelines recommend that discretionary foods (i.e. those not necessary for nutrients but are often high in saturated fat, salt, sugar or alcohol) are only consumed sometimes and in small amounts. However, over one-third (35%) of total daily energy in 2011-12 came from foods and beverages classified as discretionary. 2 To remain consistent with the ADG, only non-discretionary food sources were counted towards the amounts of Five Food Groups consumed in comparisons with recommendations.


ENDNOTES

1. National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013, Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: Australian Government. <https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines_130530.pdf >, Last accessed 05/05/2016

2. See discussion of Discretionary foods from 4364.0.55.007 - Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results - Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.007~2011-12~Main%20Features~Discretionary%20foods~700 >