Discretionary food and beverage consumption and its association with demographic characteristics, weight status, and fruit and vegetable intakes in Australian adults

Public Health Nutr. 2017 Feb;20(2):274-281. doi: 10.1017/S1368980016002305. Epub 2016 Aug 30.


Objective: Excessive consumption of discretionary foods/beverages in the Australian population has been identified, increasing the risk of obesity and chronic disease. The present study aimed to examine the associations between demographic, anthropometric and dietary factors and the consumption of discretionary foods, discretionary beverages and discretionary foods/beverages combined.

Design: Discretionary food/beverage consumption reported in two 24 h recalls was analysed, stratified by gender, age, socio-economic status, country of birth, BMI, waist circumference, and fruit and vegetable intakes.

Setting: 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.

Subjects: Australian adults (n 7873) aged 19 years or above.

Results: Mean discretionary food and beverage consumption was 631 g (28 % by weight from foods; 72 % from beverages), providing 2721 kJ of energy intake (72 % from foods; 28 % from beverages). Total discretionary food/beverage consumption was higher in younger age groups (P<0·001), those in lower socio-economic categories (P<0·001), those born in Australia (P<0·001), those with higher BMI (P<0·001) and those with lower fruit (P<0·001) or vegetable intake (P<0·001). Discretionary beverage consumption (β=6·6, P<0·001) was more strongly associated with BMI than discretionary food consumption (β=0·5, P=0·01).

Conclusions: Total discretionary food/beverage consumption as well as discretionary foods alone and discretionary beverages alone were associated with BMI in Australian adults. In addition, high intakes were associated with younger age, lower socio-economic status, and lower consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Keywords: Australia; BMI; Dietary pattern; Discretionary food; Extra food.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Australia
  • Beverages
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Demography
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Eating
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Class
  • Vegetables*
  • Young Adult