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Dietary energy is derived from the macronutrient content of foods. The energy yielding macronutrients are: protein, fat, carbohydrate and alcohol with small amounts of additional energy provided by dietary fibre and organic acids. Imbalances in the proportion of energy derived from macronutrients are associated with increased risk of chronic diseases. There is however, a wide range in which the macronutrient balance is considered acceptable for managing chronic disease risk. Reference ranges known as Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR) form part of the recommendations for optimising diets to lower chronic disease risk while ensuring adequate micronutrient status.1
Footnote(s): (a) Proportions will not add to 100% due to excluding energy from fibre and other components. See User Guide - Energy conversion factors
Source(s): Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results - Food and Nutrients, 2011-12
Overall, the average proportion of energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrate of the population (based on a single 24-hour recall) was within the bounds of the AMDR. Carbohydrate contributed the largest proportion to the population's energy intake with 45%, a level similar to that in 1995, but still at the lower end of the recommended intake range (45% to 65%). Based on a single day's intake it is not possible to estimate the proportion who would have usual intakes that were below the AMDR2. However, some age groups (31-50 years, 51-70 years and 71 years and over) had averages that were below the lower end of the range indicating that a considerable proportion may have a carbohydrate contribution of less than 45% of energy. The lowest was 42% among the 51-70 year olds. While this population was within the AMDR for protein and fat, their proportion of energy from alcohol (5.6%) was high relative to other age groups see Table 2.1.
The balance of macronutrients shifted across age groups, with children tending to have a greater proportion of energy coming from carbohydrate and less from protein than progressively older age groups. Between the age of 4-8 years and 51-70 years, the carbohydrate contribution to energy declined from 51% to 42%, while protein increased from 16% to 19% see Table 2.1. The dietary patterns responsible for this shift are seen in the different proportion of food types contributing to energy intake. For example, the children aged 4-8 years had a higher proportion of their energy coming from the carbohydrate-rich Regular bread, and bread rolls (9.8%) and Mixed dishes where cereal is the major ingredient (8.6%) than the 51-70 year olds (8.5% and 6.4% respectively). In contrast, the 4-8 year olds had a lower proportion of energy coming from Beef, sheep and pork (including mixed dishes) at 2.6% compared with 7.2% among the 51-70 year olds see Table 8.1
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