4364.0.55.012 - Australian Health Survey: Consumption of Food Groups from the Australian Dietary Guidelines, 2011-12  
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VEGETABLES AND LEGUMES/BEANS

The ADG advice to “enjoy plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans” is a long standing message supported by an accumulating body of evidence.1 In addition to being a vital source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, vegetables and legumes/beans can help reduce a person’s risk of developing chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers. A further and related benefit of a diet rich in vegetables and legumes/beans is to help to maintain healthy body weight when consumed in place of energy-dense foods.1,2

How much is a serve of vegetables*?1

A standard serve is about 75 g (100-350 kJ) or:

  • cup cooked green or orange vegetables (for example, broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin)
  • cup cooked dried or canned beans, peas or lentils**
  • 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
  • 1 medium tomato

*With canned varieties, choose those with no added salt
**Legumes/beans also contribute to serves within the Lean meats and alternatives group, see Glossary for more information


HOW MANY SERVES OF VEGETABLES AND LEGUMES/BEANS WERE CONSUMED?

In 2011-12, Australians usually consume an average 2.7 serves of vegetables and legumes/beans from non-discretionary sources. The average number of serves of vegetables and legumes/beans consumed generally increased with age, with adults (aged 19 years and over) having almost twice that of children (2-18 years) 3.0 serves compared with 1.8 serves.

This graph show the mean serves of vegetables and legumes/beans 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 VEGETABLES AND LEGUMES/BEANS SERVES?


Less than 4% of the population consumed the minimum recommended number of serves of vegetables and legumes/beans on a usual basis. Among children, it was estimated that less than 1% usually met their recommended number of serves. Although the proportions of adults consuming the recommended number of serves of vegetables was higher than children, they were still a very small minority, the highest rates being for males aged 71 years and over and females aged 51-70 years (8.3% and 7.5% respectively).

Vegetables and legumes/beans: 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
2
2
1.4
1.1
1.0
0.1
4-8
4
4
1.6
1.3
0.0
0.0
9-11
5
5
1.8
1.8
0.7
0.5
12-13
5
5
2.0
1.7
0.4
0.4
14-18
5
5*
2.1
1.9
0.5
0.7
19-50
6
5*
2.8
2.7
1.7
4.2
51-70
5
5
3.1
3.0
5.5
7.5
71 +
5
5
3.0
2.7
8.3
4.3

(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 5 serves for women aged 14-18 years and 7 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 one percent of the 2-3 year olds met the recommended 2 serves of vegetables and legumes/beans per day. Around three quarters (74%) consumed less than 1 serves, including around one-quarter (26%) who usually ate less than 1 serve.

While the 4 serves recommended for the 4-8 year olds is 2 serves higher than recommended for the 2-3 year olds, the 4-8 year olds only consumed an extra 0.2 of a serve more on average. The median amount consumed by the 4-8 year olds was 1.5 serves with 13% consuming 2 or more serves.

This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of vegetables and legumes/beans 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 vegetables and legumes/beans 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


Five serves of vegetables per day are recommended for females aged 9-18 years and males aged 9-11, while for 12-18 years males the ADG recommendation is for 5 serves per day. Less than 1% of any of these groups managed to meet their respective recommendations, with the great majority (96%) consuming less than 4 serves and half of them consuming less than 1.9 serves (ranging from 1.7 for 12-13 years females and 2.1 for 14-18 years males).

This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of vegetables and legumes/beans 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 vegetables and legumes/beans for males and females 12-18 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 for vegetables and legumes/beans for males aged 19-50 years is 6 serves per day - the highest of any group. Less than 2% of males this age consumed 6 serves per day on a usual basis, with half usually consuming 2.8 serves per day.

Females aged 19-50 years are recommended 5 serves per day, which was met by 4.2%, while half these women usually consume less than 2.7 serves per day.

This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of vegetables and legumes/beans 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.

Older males, both the 51-70 year olds and the 71 years and over groups were more likely than the younger adults aged 19-50 years to meet their recommendations of 5 (males 71 years and over) or 5 (males 51-70) serves (6.2% compared with 1.7%). While this was in part due to the lower minimum requirement for the older age groups it is also reflective of higher vegetable consumption, with the median serves for these age groups being 3.1 and 3.0 respectively compared with 2.8 for the 19-50 years group.

This graph shows the usual serves consumed per day from non-discretionary sources of vegetables and legumes/beans 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 vegetables and legumes/beans 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.

Females aged 51-70 years were the female group with the highest vegetable consumption with 7.5% meeting the recommended 5 serves per day and half consuming 3.0 serves per day. Females aged 71 years and over had similar levels of vegetable consumption as the 19-50 year olds with 4.3% meeting the recommendations and a median consumption of 2.7 serves.


TYPES OF VEGETABLES AND LEGUMES/BEANS

Serves of vegetables and legumes/beans from non-discretionary sources comprised green and brassica (21%), starchy vegetables (21%), orange vegetables (13%), and the largest group being the ‘other’ category (includes vegetables such as tomato, cucumber, zucchini, mushroom) with 39%.

This graph shows proportion of serves of types of vegetables and legumes/beans 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.
    (c) Included tomato, capsicum, mushroom, zucchini, squash and other vegetables. For a list of included vegetables in each category see Appendix 2.
    Source: National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2011-12.

VEGETABLES AND LEGUMES/BEANS FROM DISCRETIONARY SOURCES

The ADG recommendations for serves of the vegetables group does not include vegetables from foods flagged as discretionary, however, if they had been counted in the total consumption of the ADG vegetables food group, average usual serves would have increased by 0.4 serves from 2.7 to 3.1. The age group with highest potential contribution from discretionary sources of vegetables was children and young people aged 12-18 years where the increase from discretionary sources would be 0.7 serves from 2 to 2.7.

This graph shows the mean serves consumed per day of vegetables and legumes/beans 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.

The most common type of vegetables consumed from discretionary sources was potatoes with chips, fries and similar products making up 39% of the discretionary vegetables while potato snack foods (such as potato crisps) made up 23%. These were followed by pastry products (which include vegetable spring rolls, dumplings and pies and pasties (11%), then gravies and savoury sauces (mostly tomato sauces) making up another 12%) and mixed dishes where cereal is the major component (such as higher saturated fat pizzas and burgers) at 7%.

ENDNOTE