The food and nutrient intake of 5 to 12 year old Australian children during school hours: A secondary analysis of the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey

Alexandra C. Manson, Brittany J. Johnson, Dorota Zarnowiecki, Rachel Sutherland, Rebecca K. Golley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective School food intake of Australian children is not comprehensively described in literature, with limited temporal, nationally representative data. Greater understanding of intake at school can inform school-based nutrition promotion. This study aimed to describe the dietary intake of primary-aged children during school hours and its contribution to daily intake. Design This secondary analysis used nationally representative, cross-sectional data from the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Dietary intake was assessed using validated 24-hour dietary recalls on school days. Descriptive statistics were undertaken to determine energy, nutrients, food groups, and food products consumed during school hours, as well as their contributions to total daily intake. Associations between school food intake and socio-demographic characteristics were explored. Setting Australia. Participants Seven hundred and ninety-five children aged 5-12 years. Results Children consumed 37% of their daily energy and 31-43% of select nutrient intake during school hours, with discretionary choices contributing 44% of school energy intake. Most children consumed less than one serve of vegetables, meat and alternatives or milk and alternatives during school hours. Commonly consumed products were discretionary choices (34%, including biscuits, processed meat), bread (17%) and fruit (12%). There were limited associations with SES variables, apart from child age. Conclusions Children's diets were not aligned with national recommendations, with school food characterised by high intake of discretionary choices. These findings are consistent with previous Australian evidence and support transformation of the Australian school food system to better align school food consumption with recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Early online date8 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • children
  • discretionary foods
  • energy intake
  • energy-dense nutrient-poor
  • primary school
  • school health

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