Published Papers - Abstract 172

Ball K, Mishra GD, Thane CW & Hodge A. How well do Australian women comply with dietary guidelines? Public Health Nutrition, 2004; 7(3): 443-452

Objective: To investigate the proportion of middle-aged Australian women meeting national dietary recommendations and its variation according to selected sociodemographic and behavioural characteristics.Design: This cross-sectional population-based study used a food-frequency questionnaire to investigate dietary patterns and compliance with 13 commonly promoted dietary guidelines among a cohort of middle-aged women participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.Setting: Nation-wide community-based survey.Subjects: A total of 10561 women aged 50-55 years at the time of the survey in 2001.Results: Only about one-third of women complied with more than half of the guidelines, and only two women in the entire sample met all 13 guidelines examined. While guidelines for meat/fish/poultry/eggs/nuts/legumes and ‘extra’ foods (e.g. ice cream, chocolate, cakes, potatoes, pizza, hamburgers and wine) were met well, large percentages of women (68-88%) did not meet guidelines relating to consumption of breads, cereal-based foods and diary products, and intakes of total and saturated fat and iron. Women working in lower socio-economic status occupations, and women living alone or with people other than a partner and/or children, were at significantly increased risk of not meeting guidelines.Conclusions: The present results indicate that a large proportion of middle-aged Australian women are not meeting dietary guidelines. Without substantial changes in their diets, and help in making these changes, current national guidelines appear unachievable for many women.