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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
Food and beverage classification
The classification of foods and beverages for the NNS was developed by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care and the Australia New Zealand Food Authority.
In this food classification:
TYPES OF FOODS EATEN
The Dietary guidelines for Australians (NHMRC 1992) and the Dietary guidelines for children and adolescents (NHRMC 1995b) recommend that Australians eat a wide variety of nutritious foods. Over 90% of Australians in almost every age group reported consuming something from cereals and cereal products the day before interview, with slightly less consuming milk and milk products. More than 65% of people of all ages ate cereal-based products and dishes; vegetables; meat and poultry; and fats and oils. At least 50% of people of most ages reported eating fruit products and dishes. (Table 3.)
The types of foods eaten varied by age and sex. For example:
QUANTITY OF INTAKE
On average, males in all age groups consumed larger amounts of food and beverages than females. Males aged 25-29 years had the highest mean daily intake of food and beverages. The decrease in the mean intake of food and beverages from the age of 45-49 years was greater for males than females.
Patterns of consumption for food and beverage groups varied according to age and sex. The mean daily food intake was highest for milk products and dishes. There were also high levels of consumption of vegetables; cereals and cereal products; meat and poultry; fruits; and cereal-based products and dishes. (Table 1.) Some general patterns within these foods were:
MAJOR FOOD GROUPS
Cereals and cereal products
The Dietary guidelines for Australians (NHMRC 1992) and the Dietary guidelines for children and adolescents (NHMRC 1995b) recommend that people eat plenty of breads and cereals, preferably wholegrain. Wholegrain cereals are not only high in fibre (usually a range of fibres), but they are also a good source of important trace minerals such as zinc, magnesium, iron and potassium, B-group vitamins and essential fatty acids. The cereals and cereal products food group includes breads, breakfast cereals, pasta and rice and is similar to the National Health and Medical Research Council definition of cereals. (See Appendix 2 for more information.)
Over 90% of Australians aged 2 years and over consumed cereal products. Although a smaller proportion of people aged 19-24 years ate cereal foods than those of other ages, they had the highest mean daily intake. Males had a higher average intake of cereals and cereal products than females in all age groups. (Tables 1 and 3.)
Australians were more likely to have consumed regular breads and rolls than any other type of cereal product. This was particularly evident for those aged 65 years and over. (Table 3.) Across all ages, regular breads and rolls provided approximately 40% of the mean daily intake of cereals and cereal products. (Table 1.)
Breakfast cereals were also consumed by a large proportion of people of all ages. Males were more likely to have consumed breakfast cereals than females in most age groups. Persons aged 65 years and over were more than twice as likely as other people to have eaten hot porridge. (Table 3.)
Some of the differences between adult population sub-groups were:
Cereal-based products and dishes
This group of foods includes biscuits, cakes and pastries as well as foods such as pizza, lasagne and commercial hamburgers, where cereal is the major ingredient. See Appendix 2 for more information.
The proportion of the Australian population in different age groups who consumed some cereal-based products and dishes ranged from 67% to 81%. Children and adolescents aged up to 15 years and adults aged 65 years and over were more likely to have consumed cereal-based products and dishes than those aged 16-64 years. The types of foods consumed within this major food group varied by age and sex. (Table 3.)
Mixed dishes where cereal is the major ingredient were the main overall contributor to the mean daily intake of cereal-based products. Males aged 19-24 reported the highest average intake of these mixed dishes, which was more than double the highest female average intake for those aged 16-18 years. Other important contributors to the intake of cereal-based products were pastries and cakes particularly for those aged 65 years and over. (Table 1.)
There was some variation across different population sub-groups:
Fruit products and dishes
The Dietary guidelines for Australians (NHMRC 1992) and the Dietary guidelines for children and adolescents (NHMRC 1995b) recommend that people eat fruits as part of a healthy diet. Fruit products and dishes are an important source of vitamin C, dietary fibre and potassium, and contain very little sodium or fat.
The proportion of people who reported eating fruits declined from 77% of 2-3 year olds to a low of 37% for the 19-24 year age group but increased to 73% of those aged 65 years and over. Females were more likely to have eaten fruits than males in all age groups, except for 2-3 year olds. (Table 3.) Females aged 12-64 years also had a higher mean intake of fruit products and dishes than males, although generally males had a higher
median intake for those who consumed. (Tables 1 and 2.)
Australians in all age groups were more likely to have eaten pome fruit (e.g. apples and pears) and tropical fruits (e.g. bananas and pineapple) than any other type of fruit although there was considerable variation with age. While adults were more likely to have consumed tropical fruits than pome fruits, the reverse was true for those aged less than 19 years. (Table 3.)
In all age groups, pome fruit made the highest contribution to the average daily intake of fruit products and dishes for both males and females. Other important contributors were citrus, stone and tropical fruits. (Table 1.)
Some of the differences between adult population sub-groups were:
Vegetable products and dishes
Vegetables are low in fat and rich in dietary fibre and essential nutrients such as pro vitamin A, vitamin C, folate and vitamin E . The Dietary guidelines for Australians (NHMRC 1992) and the Dietary guidelines for children and adolescents (NHMRC 1995b) also encourage Australians to eat plenty of vegetables.
More than 70% of the Australian population had eaten vegetables the day before interview. A greater proportion of adults consumed vegetable products and dishes than children. Potatoes were the most commonly consumed vegetable, with approximately 45-60% of the Australian population reporting that they had eaten potatoes. At least one-third of Australian adults reported eating carrots; leaf and stalk vegetables; tomatoes; other fruiting vegetables (e.g. pumpkin); or other vegetables and vegetable combinations. (Table 3.)
The mean daily intake of vegetables generally increased with age and was highest for persons aged 45-64 years. Potatoes were the main contributor to the mean intake of vegetable products and dishes, due to the high proportion of consumers with a high median intake. Other important contributors were tomatoes, carrots, other fruiting vegetables, and other vegetables and vegetable combinations. The median intake of cabbage, cauliflower and similar brassica vegetables by those who consumed was one of the highest median intakes after potatoes. (Tables 1, 2 and 3.)
Milk products and dishes
Milk is an excellent source of many nutrients but in particular of calcium, riboflavin and protein. The vast majority of Australians consumed milk products and dishes. The proportion consuming declined from 98% of children aged 2-3 years to 90% of adults aged 19-24 years and increased to 95% of persons aged 65 years and over. The lowest proportion was recorded for females aged 16-18 years (87%). (Table 3.)
Australians were more likely to have consumed dairy milk than any other milk product. A smaller proportion of females aged 16-18 years consumed dairy milk than any other age group of either sex (63%). Dairy milk accounted for approximately 70% of the mean daily intake of milk products and dishes for persons of all ages. (Tables 1 and 3.)
However approximately 45% of both males and females aged 16-18 years had eaten cheese, a higher proportion than any other age group. A higher proportion of children and adolescents had consumed frozen milk products than adults with the average intake being highest for 12-15 year olds. (Tables 1 and 3.)
Some differences in adult consumption of milk products and dishes were:
Meat, poultry, and game products and dishes
Meats are major contributors of protein, niacin equivalents, iron, zinc and vitamin B12. A small amount of meat in a meal improves the absorption of the iron from vegetables and cereals. Organ meats such as liver and kidneys also contain significant amounts of vitamin A (Rogers 1990).
Overall, the proportion of the population who consumed meat, poultry and game products and dishes increased with age. In most age groups, males were more likely to have consumed meat and poultry than females.
More Australians consumed muscle meats than any other type of meat, poultry or game. (Table 3.) Generally, males had a higher average intake of muscle meat than other types of meat. However, average intake of mixed beef or veal dishes (e.g. casseroles and crumbed beef) was higher than muscle meats for females in every age group up to 45 years. (Table 1.)
Fats and oils
Fats are present in many foods either as a naturally occurring constituent or through being added during processing, cooking, or just prior to being eaten. For example, a meal of roast beef and potatoes could contain the naturally present fat in roast beef, the oil used in cooking, and margarine added to the potatoes just prior to eating.
In the NNS the fats and oils food group consists only of fats added to foods just prior to being eaten. In the above example only the margarine added to the potatoes is included in the fats and oils group. Other fats and oils either naturally present or added in the cooking process are included in the group of the main food or dish. See Appendix 2 for further information. Information on the total fat intake is available in Nutrient Intakes and Physical Measurements (ABS 1998b).
A high proportion of both males and females consumed fats and oils. The proportion declined from 83% of those aged 2-3 years to 66% of 16-18 year olds, then gradually increased to 84% of persons aged 65 years and over.
Australians were much more likely to have consumed margarine than dairy fats in all age groups. Males between the ages of 12 and 44 years were more likely to have consumed margarine than females in the same age group, whereas the reverse was true for dairy fats. (Table 3.)
Differences in the adult consumption of fats and oils include:
Non-alcoholic beverages (excluding milk)
Approximately 60% of the adult human body is made up of water and about 2.5 litres of water is needed each day to replace water lost from the body. Beverages are the main source of this water.
Almost every Australian had consumed one or more non-alcoholic beverages. In all age groups, a higher proportion reported drinking mineral waters and water than any other type of non-alcoholic beverage. Consumption of other non-alcoholic beverages varied by age:
Some of the differences in the adult consumption of non-alcoholic beverages were:
The Dietary guidelines for Australians recommend that alcohol intake should be limited (NHMRC 1992). Alcoholic beverages vary considerably in the amount of absolute alcohol they contain, from less than 1.9% in low alcohol beer to around 30% in spirits. Detailed information on absolute alcohol intake is available in Nutrient Intakes and Physical Measurements (ABS 1998b).
Overall, about 42% of men and 24% of women reported consuming an alcoholic beverage. The proportion was highest in those aged 45-64 years at 49% for men and 29% for women. Males were more likely than females to have consumed alcoholic beverages in every age group. Men also had a much higher mean daily intake of alcoholic beverages than women. Based on mean intake, beer was the main alcoholic beverage for men of all ages and for women aged 16-24 years, while wine was the main alcoholic beverage for women aged 25 years and over. (Tables 1 and 3.)
Consumption of alcoholic beverages differed across adult population sub-groups. Some examples were:
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