Food and nutrient intake of Australian primary school children during school hours: A secondary analysis

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background School food intake of Australian children is not comprehensively described in literature, with limited contemporary, nationally representative information available. Greater understanding of intake within school creates opportunity for transformation of the school food system, improving children’s nutrition and health outcomes. Aims To describe the dietary intake of 5-12 year old children during school hours and its contribution to total daily dietary intake. Methods This study was a secondary analysis of nationally representative, cross-sectional data from the Australian 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Dietary intake of 795 5-12-year-olds was assessed using validated 24-hour dietary recalls completed on school days. Descriptive analyses were completed to determine energy, nutrients, food groups, food categories and discretionary items consumed during school hours and daily contribution. Results Children consumed 33% of their daily energy intake during school hours, with 40% of school energy intake from discretionary food and beverages. Most children did not consume vegetables, meat or dairy foods during school hours. Commonly consumed items were discretionary foods (34%), including biscuits, processed meat and packaged snacks, in addition to fruit (17%) and bread (12%). Conclusions Foods and beverages consumed during school hours provide a considerable contribution to daily energy intake, reinforcing schools as a key health promotion setting. Children are not consuming diets aligned with national recommendations, with school food profiled by high intake of discretionary items. Results consistent with previous Australian evidence support reinvention of the Australian school food system to better align school food consumption with national recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
EventDietitians Australia 2021 Conference : What's possible? - Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 11 Jul 202113 Jul 2021


ConferenceDietitians Australia 2021 Conference
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Oral presentation, 13th July 2021, part of Community Paediatrics and Maternal Health


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