Australian children achieve daily nutrient requirements through consumption of non-core foods.

Core food intakes of Australian children aged 9–10 years: nutrients, daily servings and diet quality in a community cross-sectional sample

Whitrow et al., JHND Early View

Background

The present study aimed to evaluate core food intakes in 9–10-year-old Australian children by considering adequacy of nutrient intakes, comparing servings of core food groups with Australian recommendations and scoring overall diet quality.

Methods

Children from an established community-based cohort study completed a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Daily intakes of energy, macronutrients, micronutrients, servings of core (i.e. nutrient-rich) foods and a diet quality index were calculated and compared with appropriate standards. Sex and socio-economic differences were examined.

Results

The 436 children participating were from low to high socio-economic status families. As a group, over half of the children met estimated average requirements for key macro- and micronutrients, with the exception of fibre (inadequate in 41% of boys and 24% of girls). Children obtained 55% of their daily energy from core foods. Most children had fewer than the recommended servings of vegetables (91%) and meat/alternatives (99.8%), whereas boys generally ate fewer servings of grains and cereals than recommended (87%), and girls ate fewer servings of dairy (83%). Diet quality scores indicated room for improvement (median score of 26 for boys and 25 for girls, out of a maximum of 73 points).

Conclusions

As a group, a large proportion of children were able to meet their daily nutrient requirements. However, achieving this through noncore foods meant that diets were high in salt, saturated fat and sugar; more servings of core foods and greater dietary diversity would be preferable. These results suggest that families need more support to optimise dietary patterns of children in this age group.

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