Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 January 2007
To identify influences on type of milk consumed and the impact of milk choice on calcium intakes in Australian women of pre- and postmenopausal age.
Questionnaires covering calcium intake, health-related dietary issues and priorities self-completed in a group setting.
A total of 300 women recruited from community groups and government departments.
Mean milk and calcium intake were higher in older (≥50 years) compared to younger women. Milk provided over 50% of calcium intake for both groups. Participants rated the importance of eating foods low in fat, energy or cholesterol, high in calcium or dietary fibre or of ‘limiting their intake of added sugar or sugary foods’. Younger and older women ranked eating foods low in fat as the most important food habit for their health, then ranked dietary fibre next in importance. Calcium ranked third for younger women, and fourth for older women. These rankings were reflected in the higher proportion of older women choosing fat-reduced milk in general, and skim milk in particular. This concern about eating foods low in fat was consistent with the choices made of skim, reduced fat/higher calcium or whole milk.
Results from this study suggest that concerns about fat are prejudicing the type of milk and amount of calcium consumed. Public health strategies targeting calcium intake need to address age-related differences in quantity and type of milk consumed, including the food attribute conflicts influencing these.
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