4364.0.55.012 - Australian Health Survey: Consumption of Food Groups from the Australian Dietary Guidelines, 2011-12  
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GRAIN (CEREALS)

Grain (cereal) foods include products such as bread, breakfast cereals, pasta and tortilla which are mostly made from wheat, oats, rice, rye, barley, millet, quinoa and corn.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that Australians consume more wholegrain or high fibre products and less refined foods and that Australians should consume these grain (cereal) foods in preference to discretionary choices (such as cakes, muffins, pastries and biscuits that have high amounts of added saturated fats, added sugars and/or salt).1

Eating grain foods, mostly wholegrain or high fibre, can help protect against heart disease, type 2-diabetes and excessive weight gain and may help reduce risk of some cancers.1

How much is a serve of grain (cereal) foods*?1

A standard serve is (500 kJ) or:

  • 1 slice (40 g) of bread
  • cup (75-120 g) cooked rice, pasta, noodles, barley, buckwheat, semolina, polenta, bulgur or quinoa
  • cup (30 g) muesli
  • 3 (35 g) crispbreads

*Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties


HOW MANY SERVES OF GRAIN (CEREAL) FOODS WERE CONSUMED?

In 2011-12, Australians aged two years and over consumed an average 4.5 serves of grain (cereal) foods from non-discretionary sources per day. On average, males consumed more of serves of grain (cereal) foods than females (5.1 serves compared with 3.8 serves).

The average number of serves consumed remained relatively stable for females aged 4 years and over (ranging from 3.8 to 4.2), with slightly less (3.4) consumed by females aged 71 years and over. There was a more steady increase across male age groups with the broad peak ranging from 5.5 to 5.7 serves for the males aged in age groups between 12 and 50 years.

This graph show the mean serves of grain (cereals) consumed per day from non-discretionary sources for Australians 2 years and over by age group and sex. Data is based on Day 1 of 24 hour dietary recall for 2011-12 NNPAS.
    (a) Based on Day 1. See Glossary for definition.
    (b) From non-discretionary sources,
    Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2011-12.


HOW MANY PEOPLE MET THE RECOMMENDED NUMBER OF GRAIN (CEREALS) SERVES?

Comparing the usual number of serves consumed against the recommendations shows that around three in ten (30%) Australians consumed sufficient grain (cereal) foods to meet the recommendations.

Overall, males were more likely to meet the recommended number of serves of grain (cereal) foods than females (35% compared with 25%). The male groups with the higher proportion meeting recommendations were those aged 4-8, 9-11 and 71 years and over with 58%, 49% and 52% respectively. Of females, those aged 9-11 years and 71 years and over had the highest proportion meeting recommendations, with 50% and 63%, respectively. In contrast, one in twenty females (4.6%) aged 14-18 usually consume 7 serves or more of grain (cereal) foods and meet the guidelines.

Grains (cereals): recommended number of usual serves, median serves consumed and proportion meeting recommendation

Age group (years)
Recommended minimum (a)
Median (b)
Proportion meeting recommendation (b)
Serves
Serves
%

Males
Females
Males
Females
Males
Females
2-3
4
4
3.4
2.9
26.0
13.5
4-8
4
4
4.2
3.7
58.4
40.0
9-11
5
4
5.0
4.0
49.3
49.6
12-13
6
5
5.2
4.0
34.9
26.7
14-18
7
7*
5.5
4.0
22.8
4.6
19-50
6
6*
5.2
3.7
34.7
8.5
51-70
6
4
4.7
3.6
24.5
38.9
71 +
4
3
4.6
3.4
51.8
62.7

(a) National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013, Australian Dietary Guidelines https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines_130530.pdf
(b) From non-discretionary sources.
Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2011-12.

* For breastfeeding women 14-50 years, the recommended usual intake of grains (cereals) is 9 serves and 8 serves for pregnant women aged 19-50 years and 8 serves for pregnant women aged 14-18. However, both pregnant and breastfeeding populations have been excluded from this analysis.


...Young children 2-8 years

The recommendation for all children aged 2-8 years is 4 serves of grains per day. However, reflecting the lower volume of food consumed in younger ages, children aged 2-3 years were less likely to meet the guidelines (20%) than those aged 4-8 years (49%). Males aged 2-8 years, were more likely than females to meet the guidelines (49% compared with 32%).

This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of grain (cereals) for males and females 2-3 years old. Data is based on usual intake from 2011-12 NNPAS. This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of grain (cereals) for males and females 4-8 years old. Data is based on usual intake from 2011-12 NNPAS.
    (a) Usual intake. See Glossary for definition.
    (b) From non-discretionary sources.
    Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2011-12.

... Children and adolescents 9-18 years

Half of children aged 9-11 years met their recommended number of serves (4 for females and 5 for males) of grain (cereals) foods on a usual basis.

For those aged 12-13 years, the recommendation increases to 6 serves for males and 5 serves for females. In this age group, 35% of males and 27% of females met the guidelines. Over one fifth (21% of males and 24% of females aged 12-13 years) were within 1 serve of the recommendations.

The recommendation for adolescents aged 14-18 years is 7 serves per day, the most for any population group. Yet they were the least likely (14%) to meet their recommendation. Only one in twenty females aged 14-18 met the recommendation on a usual basis, with half of females (50%) aged 14-18 years consuming 4 or less serves. Whereas, almost a quarter of males (23%) aged 14-18 years consumed 7 or more serves of grains on a usual basis, with an additional 17% consuming 1 serve or less than the recommended number of serves.

This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of grain (cereals) for males and females 9-11 years old. Data is based on usual intake from 2011-12 NNPAS. This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of grain (cereals) for males and females 12-13 years old. Data is based on usual intake from 2011-12 NNPAS.

This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of grain (cereals) for males and females 14-18 years old. Data is based on usual intake from 2011-12 NNPAS.
    (a) Usual intake. See
    Glossary for definition.
    (b) From non-discretionary sources.
    Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2011-12.


...Adults 19 years and over

The recommendation for both males and females aged 19-50 years is 6 serves of grain (cereal) per day. Over one in three (35%) males this age did consume 6 or more serves, which was four times the rate of females (8.5%) in the same age group.

This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of grain (cereals) for males and females 19-50 years old. Data is based on usual intake from 2011-12 NNPAS.
    (a) Usual intake. See Glossary for definition.
    (b) From non-discretionary sources.
    Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2011-12.

One-quarter of males (25%) aged 51-70 met the recommended 6 serves or more of grains, while 39% of females in the same age group meet their recommendation of 4 serves or more on a usual basis. The adult group most likely to meet the guidelines were females aged 71 years and over, where 62% met the recommended 3 serves or more of grains (cereals). An additional 25% of females aged 71 years and over consumed more than 2 serves of grains on a usual basis but less than 3. Among males aged 71 years and over, around half (52%) usually consumed the recommended 4 serves.

This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of grain (cereals) for males and females 51-70 years old. Data is based on usual intake from 2011-12 NNPAS.This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of grains (cereals) for males and females 71 years and older. Data is based on usual intake from 2011-12 NNPAS.
    (a) Usual intake. See Glossary for definition.
    (b) From non-discretionary sources.
    Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2011-12.


HOW MUCH IS WHOLEGRAIN OR HIGH FIBRE?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that at least two thirds of grain products should be wholegrain and/or higher fibre varieties.12

On a given day in 2011-12, around one-third (34%) of all grain (cereal) foods consumed by Australians were wholegrain or high fibre products. Wholegrains or high fibre made up over half of all grains (55%) consumed by persons aged 71 years and over which was double the proportion of wholegrains or high fibre consumed by adolescents aged 14-18 years (22% of total grain (cereal) foods).

This graph shows proportion of wholegrain or high fibre serves of grain (cereals) from non-discretionary sources by age group for Australians aged 2 years and over. Data is based on Day 1 of 24 hour dietary recall from 2011-12 NNPAS.
    (a) Based on Day 1. See Glossary for definition.
    (b) From non-discretionary sources.
    Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2011-12.


SOURCES OF GRAINS (CEREALS)

Regular breads, and bread rolls (plain/unfilled/untopped varieties) were the greatest source of grains with 36% coming from bread. Mixed dishes where cereal is the major ingredient (including non-discretionary savoury pasta/noodle or rice dishes, burgers and pizzas) was the second biggest contributor to the grain (cereals) food group (20% of total serves of grains). These were followed by ready to eat breakfast cereals (13%) and flours and other cereal grains and starches, such as rice and oats (11%).


GRAIN (CEREALS) FOODS FROM DISCRETIONARY SOURCES

The ADG recommendation serves of grain (cereal) group does not include food sources flagged as discretionary. However, if such foods (e.g. the bun from a burger that is high in saturated fat) were accounted for in the grain (cereal) group, the average consumption would increase by around 1 serve from 4.5 to 5.5.

When discretionary foods are included, the average number of serves consumed would meet the relevant minimum recommended serves of grain (cereal) foods for all male age groups, with the exception of males aged 51-70 years where the recommendation is 6 serves.

The increase in serves from discretionary sources was twice as high for children aged 2-18 compared with adults (24% compared with 12%). The age group with highest potential contribution from discretionary sources of grains was females aged 9-11 years where the increase from discretionary sources would be 1.5 serves.

This graph shows the mean serves consumed per day of grain (cereal) from discretionary and non-discretionary sources for Australians 2 years and over by age group. Data is based on Day 1 of 24 hour dietary recall from 2011-12 NNPAS.
    (a) Based on Day 1. See Glossary for definition.
    Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2011-12.

Types of discretionary food sources contributing to grain (cereals) group

The most common type of grains consumed from discretionary sources was from the cereal based products and dishes group (69%). This includes foods such as pastries (such as sausage rolls and meat pies) which made up 21% of discretionary grain (cereal) serves, while cakes, muffins, scones and cake-type desserts contributed 16% followed by sweet biscuits (13%) and mixed dishes where cereal is the major ingredient (11%). These were followed by cereal and cereal products (9.3%) and snack foods at 7.4%. 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. Wholegrain products are foods that use every part of the grain (cereal).