4364.0.55.012 - Australian Health Survey: Consumption of Food Groups from the Australian Dietary Guidelines, 2011-12  
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LEAN MEAT AND POULTRY, FISH, EGGS, TOFU, NUTS AND SEEDS AND LEGUMES/BEANS

The lean meats and alternatives group comprises a diverse group of foods both nutritionally and biologically. It incorporates foods from animal, seafood and plant sources including lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, and plant based alternatives such as tofu, legumes/beans and nuts and seeds.1

This group is an important source of protein as well as a range of micronutrients such as iodine, iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3s). Fish in particular has been found to have favourable associations with cardiovascular disease, dementia risk and age related macular degeneration.1 Nut consumption has also been associated with favourable changes in cardiovascular disease markers. Red meats, while a rich source of nutrients, have been associated with increased risk of certain cancers when consumed in large amounts and thus guidelines recommend limiting their consumption.1,2

How much is a serve of lean meats and alternatives*?1

A standard serve is (500-600 kJ):

  • 65 g cooked lean red meats such as beef, lamb, veal, pork, goat or kangaroo (about 90-100 g raw)
  • 80 g cooked lean poultry such as chicken or turkey (100 g raw)
  • 2 large eggs (120 g)
  • 1 cup (150 g) cooked or canned legumes/beans such as lentils, chick peas or split peas
  • 170 g tofu
  • 30 g nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter or tahini or other nut or seed paste**

*Choose those with no added salt
**Nuts/seeds also contribute to serves within the unsaturated fats and oils group, see Glossary and Appendix 2 for more information


HOW MANY SERVES OF LEAN MEATS AND ALTERNATIVES WERE CONSUMED?

In 2011-12, Australians consumed an average 1.7 serves of lean meats and alternatives from non-discretionary sources per day. The average consumption of lean meats and alternatives increased across age groups, peaking at 2.3 serves per day for males aged 19-50 years, and at 1.7 serves for females aged 51-70 years.


This graph show the mean serves of lean meats and alternatives from non-discretionary sources consumed per day 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 SERVES OF LEAN MEATS AND ALTERNATIVES?

One in seven (14%) people met the recommended daily number of serves of lean meats and alternatives on a usual basis. Adults were more likely to meet the recommendation than children (17% compared with 4.5%) and males overall were more likely than females (18% and 10% respectively).

Lean meats and alternatives: 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
1
1
0.8
0.7
15.9
5.9
4-8
1
1
0.8
0.7
0.4
0.1
9-11
2
2
1.2
1.0
3.5
0.2
12-13
2
2
1.3
1.2
4.2
0.7
14-18
2
2*
1.7
1.3
14.9
1.4
19-50
3
2*
2.2
1.6
17.5
5.3
51-70
2
2
2.1
1.7
29.5
27.7
71 +
2
2
1.7
1.4
16.3
12.2

(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, the recommended usual serves of vegetables is 2 serves for women aged 14-18 years and 3 serves for women aged 19-50 years. However, both the pregnant and breastfeeding populations have been excluded from this analysis.


…Young children 2-8 years

Less than 16% of males and 6% of females aged 2-3 consumed the recommended 1 serve of lean meats and alternatives on a usual basis. However, around 80% of both males and females this age were within half a serve of the recommendation. The recommended number of serves of lean meats and alternatives for the 4-8 year age groups was half a serve higher at 1.5. However, with a very similar consumption pattern as the 2-3 year olds, less than 0.5% of the 4-8 year olds met the recommendation on a usual basis.

This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of lean meats and alternatives 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 lean meats and alternatives 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

The recommended number of serves of lean meats and alternatives for males and females aged 9-18 years is 2 serves. Almost one in ten (9.5%) males this age reached this target with half (51%) consuming less than 1.5 serves. Less than 1% of females the same age were able to meet the 2 serve recommendation, with three-quarters of them usually consuming less than 1 serves per day.

Within the 9-18 years group, males aged 14-18 years were most likely to meet the recommendations with 15% consuming the 2 or more serves. Females aged 9-11 years were the least likely with just 0.2% consuming 2 or more serves and half consuming less than 1 serve.

This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of lean meats and alternatives for males and females 9-13 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 lean meats and alternatives 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 recommended number of serves of lean meats and alternatives for males aged 19-50 years is 3 per day, which is the highest minimum of all groups. Some 18% of males this age met the recommendation and another 19% were within half a serve of the recommendation.

For females aged 19-50 years the recommendation is 2 serves of lean meat and alternatives per day. While only one in twenty (5%) females this age consumed this amount, a further 16% were within half a serve of the target, leaving 79% consuming less than 1 serves per day.

At age 51-70, 30% of males met the 2 serves per day recommendation, which was the highest adherence for the lean meats and alternatives group. For females this age, the recommendation of 2 serves per day was achieved by 28% (the highest adherence among females) and a further 36% of females this age were within half a serve of the recommendation.

For males aged 71 years and over, the recommendation is 2 serve of lean meat and alternatives per day. While 16% met the recommendations, there were another 20% who usually consumed only half a serve less. For females aged 71 years and over, 12% met the recommended 2 serves per day, with an extra 30% consuming only half a serve less.


This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of lean meats and alternatives for males and females 19-50 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 lean meats and alternatives 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 lean meats and alternatives 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.



TYPES OF LEAN MEAT AND ALTERNATIVES

Of the types of lean meats and alternatives that were consumed, red meats and poultry together made up two thirds (68%) of consumption. Red meat including beef, veal, lamb, pork and kangaroo contributed the largest proportion (38%), with poultry making up 29%. This was followed by nuts and seeds (11%), fish and seafood (9.9%), eggs (6.2%) and legumes (4.8%).


This graph shows proportion of serves of types of lean meats and alternatives 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) Fom non-discretionary sources.
    (c) Includes beef, veal, lamb, pork and kangaroo.
    Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2011-12.


CONSUMPTION OF NON-LEAN MEAT AND PROCESSED MEAT

The Australian Dietary Guidelines emphasise that meat consumption should be limited to the lean and unprocessed types. Processed meats are excluded due to the more direct link to cancer outcomes, high sodium content and lower nutritional value. 1,2 The estimates of usual number of serves of lean meat and alternatives included foods defined as lean and unprocessed from the AHS ADG Classification system3 which used:
  • <10% fat as the criteria for ‘lean meat’ (e.g. lower fat mince)
  • the ‘unprocessed’ sub-classification only, in order to exclude meats such as ham, bacon, salami, and poultry luncheon meats.
    In addition to these criteria, as for the other food groups, any sources of meats from foods that have been classified as discretionary (such as battered, deep-fried fish) were excluded.

    The amount of consumption of non-lean meat was 0.5 serves per day, while an average 0.4 serves of processed meat was consumed. The largest amounts of processed meat were consumed by 14-18 year old males who had an average of 0.6 serves on a given day. Overall, the inclusion of higher fat and processed meats and all other discretionary sources of lean meat and alternatives, would add 0.8 serves of meat to the ADG average of 1.7 serves per day.

    The most common sources of discretionary meats were higher fat sausages, contributing 14% of total discretionary meat. Lamb and mutton (of higher fat varieties5) was the next highest, making up 8%. Ham was the third highest, contributing 7%.


    This graph shows the mean serves consumed per day of meats and alternatives 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.
      (b) Includes foods such as battered fish and lean chicken in a spring roll.
      Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.

    The Guidelines provide a further caveat around red meat consumption, recommending that the weekly consumption of red meat be limited to no more than 455 g due to the association of red meat to certain cancers when consumed in large amounts.1,2 Taking account of all red meat (including all non-discretionary, lean, discretionary, higher fat and processed varieties), the weekly consumption of red meat by Australians was estimated at an average 565 g – 24% higher on average than maximum suggested by the Guidelines. The age group with the highest total consumption of red meat was 14-18 year olds who averaged 625 g per week.

    This graph shows the mean grams consumed per day of red meats 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.
      (b) Includes beef, veal, lamb, pork and kangaroo.
      (c) Includes meats such as ham, bacon and sausages made from red meat.
      (d) Includes high fat unprocessed red meat plus lean unprocessed red meat found in discretionary dishes.
      Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2011-12.


    ENDNOTES