1. This report explores the characteristics that influenced median intakes of energy and ten nutrients in a representative sample of 1055 adolescents (11–16 years) in Tasmania, Australia.
2. Among girls, the characteristic with greatest influence on intakes was different for different nutrients. Thus, median intakes of fat, iron, thiamin and niacin-equivalent were lower in heavier, fatter girls. Girls from larger families consumed more riboflavin, while girls with poorly educated mothers consumed less vitamin A. Girls who regularly took vitamin supplements had higher median intakes of (food-derived) calcium.
3. Among boys the increase of intakes of energy and nutrients with age overshadowed the influence of other characteristics.
4. Among younger boys the characteristic with greatest influence varied. Those with highly educated fathers had lower median intakes of energy and carbohydrate; those who exercised vigorously consumed more fat; those who smoked ‘heavily’ (> 10 cigarettes in the previous week) consumed more thiamin and niacin-equivalent.
5. Among older boys the characteristic with greatest influence varied. Those who drank ‘heavily’ (> five glasses in the previous week) had higher intakes of energy and fat. Those from professional–managerial households consumed more thiamin.
6. For vitamin C, there was no sex difference in intakes. Social status had the greatest influence, with children from professional–managerial households eating more.
7. Food choices underlying these differences in energy and nutrient intakes were explored.