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Do the contemporary dietary patterns of children align with national food and nutrient recommendations?

K-L Holmes, M E Rollo, C E Collins
Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics: the Official Journal of the British Dietetic Association 2018 June 21

BACKGROUND: Childhood nutrition is important in optimising growth, development and future health. The present study compared dietary intakes of Australian children aged 4-8 years with (i) Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) food group recommendations and (ii) age-specific Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs), in addition to (iii) describing food group intakes of children meeting key NRVs.

METHODS: Data were obtained from a representative sample of children (n = 789) from the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey between May 2011 and June 2012. Parent-reported 24-h recall dietary data were disaggregated into five core food groups, along with energy-dense, nutrient-poor (EDNP) foods, with intakes being compared with AGHE recommendations. Food group intakes were compared for children meeting the NRVs for 10 nutrients used for the development of AGHE food groups. Chi-squared and t-tests were performed to determine differences in food group intakes with P < 0.05 considered statistically significant.

RESULTS: Only one child met the recommended daily servings for all AGHE core food groups and none met both core and energy-dense, nutrient-poor (EDNP) food group recommendations. The lowest level of alignment (percentage meeting recommendations) was for vegetables (4.6%) and the highest was for fruit (47.7%). Mean (SD) daily intake of EDNP foods [4.7 (3.2) serves day-1 ] accounted for 38.4% of total energy intakes. Children meeting key NRVs (n = 395) consumed greater daily servings of fruit [2.2 (1.7)], dairy [2.2 (1.2)] and EDNP foods [5.0 (3.4)] compared to the total sample (n = 789).

CONCLUSIONS: Significant discrepancies exist between contemporary dietary patterns of Australian children and national recommendations. Future AGHE revisions should incorporate greater diversity of consumption patterns, including sub-categories of EDNP foods.


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