As nations seek to address obesity and diet-related chronic disease, understanding shifts in food intake over time is an imperative. However, quantifying intake of basic foods is not straightforward because of the diversity of raw and cooked wholefoods, processed foods and mixed dishes actually consumed. In this study, data from the Australian national nutrition surveys of 1995 and 2011, each involving more than 12,000 individuals and covering more than 4500 separate foods, were coherently disaggregated into basic foods, with cooking and processing factors applied where necessary. Although Australians are generally not eating in a manner consistent with national dietary guidelines, there have been several positive changes. Australians are eating more whole fruit, a greater diversity of vegetables, more beans, peas and pulses, less refined sugar, and they have increased their preference for brown and wholegrain cereals. Adult Australians have also increased their intake of nuts and seeds. Fruit juice consumption markedly declined, especially for younger Australians. Cocoa consumption increased and shifts in dairy product intake were mixed, reflecting one of several important differences between age and gender cohorts. This study sets the context for more detailed research at the level of specific foods to understand individual and household differences.
Keywords: Australian Guide to Healthy Eating; Australian Health Survey; National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey; dietary transition; eating habits; food choices; food consumption pattern; food intake.