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5. National Dietary Surveys - Levels and Trends in Animal Fats

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Since the 1944 Food Consumption Survey, there have been two national dietary surveys of adults conducted in Australia - the 1983 National Dietary of Adults and the 1995 National Nutrition Survey.

1983 National Dietary Survey of Australian Adults

The 1983 National Dietary Survey of Australian Adults was conducted on 6255 men and women, aged 25-64 years and living in the State capital cities. The mean fat intake by men aged 25-64 years was 110.1g per head per day. This mean daily fat intake was estimated to comprise 63.4g of animal fat and 46.6g vegetable fat. For men aged 55-64 years (the closest age range to that of World War 2 veterans in 1983), the mean daily intake per head was 96.0g fat (55.3g animal-based and 40.7g vegetable-based).

1995 National Nutrition Survey

The 1995 National Nutrition Survey was conducted on 13,800 persons, aged two years or over from urban and rural areas in all States and Territories. The daily food consumption (24-hour recall) method was used as the major indicator of food intake. Data released from the 1995 Survey show that the average total fat intake of males aged 19 years and older was 98.5 g/day. For males 65 years of age and older, total fat intake was 72.7g/head/day. Data are not yet available to estimate the intakes of animal fat. However, the overall reduction in total fat intake reported in the survey would indicate a lower average intake of animal fat for all men, aged 19 years and over, and for men, aged 65 years and older. Extrapolating from the results of the 1983 dietary survey, animal fat intake in the 1995-96 nutrition survey is estimated as an average of 56.8g/head/day for all men aged 19 years and older, and 49.9g/head/day for men aged 65 years and older.

Proposition

The results of surveys of actual food consumption conducted in 1983 and 1995-96, also show that there has been a major decrease in the intake of both total and animal fat in the Australian community since the 1944 Household Dietary Survey. The average intake of animal fat for adult men has decreased from an estimate of 122.0g in 1944 to 63.4g in 1983 and to 56.8g/head/day in 1995-96. The average intake for older men of a comparable age to World War 2 veterans is estimated as 55.3g in 1983 and 49.9g/head/day in 1995-96.

The food intake data from 1983 and 1995-96 indicate that maintaining an intake of 70g animal-based fat a day from 1983 and also previous to this date (based on food availability data from the yearly ABS series Apparent consumption of foodstuffs and nutrients), is inconsistent with food and nutrient intake patterns in the Australian community. Together with a reduction in total fat, the contribution of non-animal fats to total fat intake has been increasing since the early 1970s at the expense of the contribution of animal-based fats to total fat. Therefore it is concluded that it has become increasingly difficult to maintain a level of animal fat intake above 70g per day, because of major changes in the Australian diet. Maintaining this level would present particular difficulties for older men, because of their reduced energy requirements and lower intakes of food.