4364.0.55.008 - Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12  
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MACRONUTRIENTS

This section contains information about usual intakes of protein, carbohydrate (specifically total sugars) and fat, and information on the prevalence of inadequate intakes of protein (based on the EAR). There are no EARs for other macronutrients.

In addition to measuring total macronutrient intake (by the EAR), the balance of macronutrients in the diet is also assessed using the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR). Although both an EAR and an AMDR apply to protein, the results of comparison with the EAR and the AMDR are interpreted differently. Comparisons with AMDRs are available at Acceptable Maconutrient Distribution Ranges.

PROTEIN

Inadequate intakes of protein (based on the EAR) indicate insufficient intake of protein to support the body’s normal tissue maintenance and/or growth, potentially leading to protein energy malnutrition.

Animal and plant foods provide protein, including meat, poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, tofu, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds.1 EARs have been set for protein based on the minimum amounts needed for the body to maintain itself and to allow for normal growth. Almost all Australians (99%) met their requirements for protein based on the EAR. However, approximately one in seven males (14%) and one in twenty-five females (4%) aged 71 years and over did not meet their requirements for protein.2

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates, comprising mainly of sugars and starch, produce energy for the body to use, and are especially important for brain function. Carbohydrates usually provide the major part of energy in human diets.

Sugars are naturally present in foods such as fruit and milk products as well as added to a range of processed foods and beverages.3 In the NNPAS, naturally occurring sugars cannot be differentiated from those that are added (see AUSNUT 2011-13 for more information on the measurement of sugar in this data).

The top 25% of the population had a usual intake of at least 100 grams of total sugars per day. This is equivalent to at least 23 teaspoons of naturally present or added sugars. Some examples of foods that have 100 grams of naturally present or added sugars are:
  • three cans of soft drink OR
  • two medium sized banana cupcakes OR
  • five apples.

Mean and median usual intake of total sugars was higher among adolescents (aged 9-18 years) than adults over 30 years of age. Overall, males had higher mean and median usual intakes of total sugars compared with females across most age groups.

FAT

Fat has the highest energy density of the macronutrients. In addition to being a concentrated form of energy, fats help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A. Dietary fats may be saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated, depending on their chemical structure. In general, saturated fats are found in animal-based foods, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found in plant-based foods, although there are exceptions.1

Males aged 9 to 50 years had a median usual intake of total fats ranging from 79 to 89 grams per day. The top 25% of the male population aged 9 to 50 years had a usual intake of at least 94 grams of total fats per day. This is equivalent to the following foods:
  • 7 tablespoons of spreads such as butter, margarine and dairy blend.
  • 5 tablespoons of oil.
    Females aged 9 to 50 years had a lower median usual intake of total fats than males (ranging from 64 to 69 grams per day). The top 25% of the female population aged 9 to 50 years had a usual intake of at least 76 grams of total fats per day. This is equivalent to the following foods:
    • 6 tablespoons of spreads such as butter, margarine and dairy blend.
    • 4 tablespoons of oil.

    Graph Image for Persons aged 2 years and over - Median usual intake of total fat

    Source(s): Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12



    ENDNOTES

    1 National Health and Medical Research Council and New Zealand Ministry of Health, 2006, Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, <http://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients>, last accessed 4/2/2015
    2 This figure does not include residents of aged-care facilities, hospitals, or other non-private dwellings. For more information on the scope of this survey please see the Scope chapter of the AHS: Users' Guide, 2011-13 (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001).
    3 National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013, Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council,
    <https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines_130530.pdf>, last accessed 4/2/2015