Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
4804.0 - National Nutrition Survey: Foods Eaten, Australia, 1995  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/01/1999   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

INTRODUCTION

The NNS was conducted between February 1995 and March 1996 across all States and Territories. It collected information for people aged two years or more on food and beverage intake, usual frequency of intake, food-related habits and attitudes, and physical measurements.

The overall objective of the NNS was the provision of food and nutrient data to assist with the implementation of Australia's Food and Nutrition Policy, future revisions of the Recommended Dietary Intakes (NHMRC 1991) and future revisions of national health goals and targets.

Two approaches were used in the NNS to collect data on food and beverage intake:

  • The daily food consumption (24-hour recall) method was used as the main indicator of food intake. The consumption data in this publication were obtained using this method. All participants in the survey were interviewed by trained nutritionists who sought detailed information on all foods and beverages consumed during the day prior to the interview (from midnight until midnight). Each food and beverage was described in sufficient detail to allow its nutrient composition to be determined. Nutrient data are available in Nutrient Intakes and Physical Measurements (ABS 1998b).
  • A qualitative Food Frequency Questionnaire was used to assess usual frequency of intake for those aged 12 years or more. Refer to Glossary for more information.


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:
  • The classification of items as beverages was partly based on nutritional content considerations. For example, milk was not classified as a beverage, but was included within 'milk products and dishes'.
  • Products and dishes were classified according to their major ingredient. For example, pizzas and commercial hamburgers were classified as 'cereal-based products'.
Appendix 2 provides a description of the food and beverage groups presented in this publication.


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:
  • Children aged 2-15 years and adults aged 45 years and over were more likely than those aged 16-44 years to have eaten cereals and cereal products, particularly breads and breakfast cereals. (Table 3.)
  • The overall proportion of people who consumed vegetable products and dishes increased with age. (Table 3.)
  • In general, women were more likely to consume fruit products and dishes than men of the same age. (Table 3.)


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:
  • Children aged 2-11 years generally consumed much smaller quantities of these food groups than adolescents and adults. Persons aged 16-24 years had the highest mean daily food intake for many food groups.
  • For most of these food groups, males and females displayed a similar pattern by age. The major exception was milk products and dishes, for which the mean intake of adolescent males was higher, and of adolescent females lower, than in childhood.
  • Adolescent females and women generally had a higher mean daily intake of fruits than males of the same age. This was the reverse of the pattern for all other major food groups.





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:
  • Adults living in rural centres and rural/remote areas had a higher mean intake of regular breads and rolls but a lower mean intake of pasta and rice than adults living in metropolitan areas. This pattern reflected the different proportions of the population who consumed these foods. (Tables 7 and 9.)
  • Adults born in the East Asian region had the highest average intake of cereals and cereal products. This was due both to a high median intake of rice and rice products by consumers born in East Asia and a high proportion (72%) of adults born in East Asia consuming rice. Conversely, adults born in this region, on average, ate smaller amounts of regular breads and rolls and breakfast cereals than adults born in any other region. (Tables 10, 11 and 12.)
  • Adults living in the most disadvantaged areas (first SEIFA quintile of relative socio-economic disadvantage) had a lower mean intake of cereals and cereal products than adults living in other SEIFA areas. This was because a lower proportion of people in the most disadvantaged areas ate cereals and those that ate cereals had a lower median intake. (Tables 13, 14 and 15.)
  • Adults were more likely to have consumed breakfast cereals, pasta and rice on a weekday than at the weekend, except for those adults aged 65 years and over. (Table 18.)


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:
  • Adults in South Australia and Victoria had the highest mean intakes of cereal-based products and dishes, due to a higher proportion of consumers, particularly for pastries and mixed dishes where cereal is the major ingredient. (Tables 4 and 6.)
  • Adults in metropolitan areas had a higher mean intake of cereal-based products than those in rural centres and rural/remote areas. This was mainly due to a higher mean intake of mixed dishes where cereal is the major ingredient (Table 7.)
  • Adults born in the East Asian region recorded the lowest mean intake of all foods in this group, apart from mixed dishes where cereal is the major ingredient. Their high mean intake of these mixed dishes was due to savoury rice-based dishes. (Table 10.)


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:
  • Adults in Tasmania had the lowest average intake of fruit products and dishes (119 g) of any State or Territory (excluding the Northern Territory), due to the low proportion of consumers and their low median intake. Adults in Tasmania generally reported the lowest mean intake of most foods and beverages. (Tables 4, 5 and 6.)
  • Adults born in Other European countries were more likely to have eaten fruit products and dishes, than adults born elsewhere. They had the highest average intake of most fruits, and their intake of pome fruits was nearly twice that of adults born in all other regions. (Tables 10 and 12.)
  • Adults living in the most advantaged areas (fifth SEIFA quintile of relative socio-economic disadvantage) had the highest average intake of most fruit products and dishes due in part to a lower proportion of consumers living in other SEIFA areas. (Tables 13 and 15.)
  • Consumption of fruits tended to peak at the time of year in which they are in season. For example, the mean intake of stone fruits was highest in summer (Table 19.)

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.)


Some differences in adult consumption of vegetable products and dishes were:

  • Adults in Tasmania had a higher mean intake of vegetables and vegetable products, particularly potatoes and carrots, than adults in other States or Territories (excluding the Northern Territory). (Table 4.)
  • The average intake of vegetables by adults was highest in rural/remote areas due to their greater intakes of potatoes, carrots, peas and beans, and other fruiting vegetables. (Table 7.)
  • Adults living in the most disadvantaged areas (first SEIFA quintile of relative socio-economic disadvantage) had the highest average intake of vegetable products and dishes, particularly potatoes and cabbage, cauliflower and similar brassica vegetables compared to adults living in other SEIFA areas. (Table 13.)
  • Adults had a higher mean intake of vegetable products and dishes on weekdays


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:
  • A higher proportion of adults in South Australia and Western Australia reported consuming flavoured milks than those in any other State or Territory (excluding the Northern Territory), and their mean intake was also highest. (Tables 4 and 7.)
  • Adults born in the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand had the highest mean intake of milk products and dishes (particularly dairy milk) whereas adults born in the East Asia region had the lowest intake. Although adults born in East Asia had one of the smallest mean intakes of dairy milk compared to other adults, those who consumed milk had the highest median intake, similar to that of Australian-born adults. Adults born in Australia were more likely to eat frozen milk products than other adults. (Tables 10, 11 and 12.)
  • Adults reported a higher mean intake of milk products and dishes on weekdays compared to weekends. Important contributors to this difference were dairy milk. (Table 16.)

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.)


Some differences by adult population sub-groups were:
  • Adults in Tasmania had the highest mean intake of muscle meats and the lowest mean intake of most other meat, poultry and game products and dishes compared to the other States and Territories (excluding the Northern Territory). (Table 4.)
  • Adults aged 19-44 years and 65 years and over had slightly higher average intakes of muscle meat and sausages on weekends than weekdays. (Table 16.)

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:
  • Adults in Tasmania had the highest mean consumption of fats and oils due both to a high proportion of consumers and the highest median intake for those who consumed. (Tables 4, 5 and 6.)
  • Adults in rural/remote areas were more likely to have consumed fats and oils, particularly margarine, than those in any other geographic region. Their average daily intake of dairy fats and margarine was also higher. (Tables 7 and 9.)

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:
  • people aged 2-15 years were more likely to drink fruit and vegetable juices;
  • people aged 16-24 were more likely to drink soft drinks, flavoured mineral waters and electrolyte drinks, and fruit and vegetable juices; and
  • adults aged 25 years and over were more likely to drink tea and coffee. On average, more coffee than tea was consumed by adults aged 19-44 years and more tea than coffee by adults aged 45 years and over. (Tables 1 and 3.)

    Mineral waters and water (mainly consumed as plain drinking water) contributed at least 40% to the mean daily intake of non-alcoholic beverages. For most age groups, plain drinking water provided approximately 90% of the total intake of mineral waters and water. (Table 1.)


Some of the differences in the adult consumption of non-alcoholic beverages were:
  • Adults in Queensland recorded the highest mean intake of mineral waters and water. Their average intake was approximately double that of adults in Tasmania, who reported the lowest intake. (Tables 4 and 6.)
  • Adults born in the East Asia region had the lowest mean intake of non-alcoholic beverages, particularly coffee, but a relatively high average intake of mineral waters and water. Adults born in the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand had the highest mean intake of tea whereas adults born in Other European countries had the highest mean intake of coffee. (Table 10.)
  • Adults drank larger average quantities of cold non-alcoholic beverages during summer than any other season of the year, mainly due to a higher average intake of mineral waters and water. (Tables 19 and 21.)


Alcoholic beverages
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:
  • Adults living in rural/remote areas had the highest mean intake of beer compared to other geographic regions, reflecting a higher proportion of consumers with a high median intake. (Tables 7, 8 and 9.)
  • Adults born in Australia recorded the highest average consumption of beer whereas adults born in Europe and New Zealand consumed the largest amounts of wine. A much lower proportion of adults born in the East Asia region drank alcoholic beverages resulting in the lowest average intake. (Tables 10 and 12.)
  • Adults living in the least disadvantaged areas (fifth SEIFA quintile of relative socio-economic disadvantage) had the lowest average intake of beers and the highest average intake of wines compared to adults living in areas with a different SEIFA profile. Overall, those in the least disadvantaged areas recorded the highest proportion of consumers of alcoholic beverages. (Tables 13 and 15.)
  • The mean intake of all alcoholic beverages, particularly beer, was much higher on weekends than weekdays. This was due to the high proportion of adults consuming alcoholic beverages on weekends and the high median intake for those who consumed. (Tables 16, 17 and 18.)


Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

© Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.