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To assess and contrast awareness of the link between dietary fibre and folate and their major food sources (fruit, vegetables, bread and cereals).
Design and setting:
Mailed questionnaire investigating changes made to dietary intake of fibre, folate, fruit, vegetables, bread and cereals in the previous six months.
The survey was conducted between June and November 1998 in the Australian Capital Territory.
One thousand one hundred and twenty-six adults randomly selected from the electoral roll.
More women than men in both older (50 + years) and younger (18–49 years) age groups reported increasing their consumption of folate, fibre, fruit and vegetables in the prior six months. In contrast, more men than women reported increased consumption of bread, cereals, rice and pasta in the previous six months. For food categories and fibre, less than 4% of respondents were unsure about changes in these food habits. However, 26% of men and women were ‘not sure’ about changes to folate intake. Similar proportions of men and women (about 33%) reported consuming more fruit, vegetables or cereal-based foods over the prior six months, yet only 6% of these men and 14% of these women reported consuming more folate. In contrast, 44% of men and 51% of women who reported consuming more plant foods also reported consuming more dietary fibre.
The results suggested that subjects, particularly the younger age group, had a poor understanding of the relationship between folate intake and its major food sources. The understanding of the relationship between fibre intake and its food sources appeared substantial, but confusion about specific food sources was still evident. These outcomes question the effectiveness of nutrition education used to date, particularly for the current priority of increasing folate intake in younger women in the new, ‘health claims’ environment.
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.
Design and setting
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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