Background: Discretionary foods (DF) should be consumed occasionally but contribute 35% of total energy intake (%en), highlighting the need to profile consumption.
Methods: Data from the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey were used, including self-reported eating occasions (REO). Prevalence of consumption, DF serves (1 = 600kJ), nutrient contribution from DF and top DF food groups by REO were calculated by age, gender, socio-economic status (SES) and weight status. DF consumers (>0 grams) were classified according to quartiles of DF intake.
Results: The majority of adults consumed DF (97%) and median serves consumed was 3.9/day. Half (50%) of all REO contained a DF. The REO with the most DF consumers were ‘lunch’ and ‘dinner’; which together contributed 45% of total DF energy intake.Cakes, muffins, scones, cake-type desserts (‘cakes’) contributed the most DF energy (8.4%). Top contributor to DF energy for males was beer (10.9%) and for females was ‘cakes’ (10.1%). Pastries provided the highest DF energy contribution among lowest SES; and wine among highest SES. DF contributed 49.4% of total sugar and 42.2% of total saturated fat. The top quartile of %en from DF consumed an average of 10±4.5 DF serves, had a higher prevalence of males, younger adults, low SES and higher mean waist circumference but not higher BMI.
Conclusion: A focus on decreasing consumption of the largest contributors to DF may be useful to decrease saturated fat and sugar intakes, especially during lunch and dinner and amongst the highest consumers.
Funding source: Grant from Nestlé Australia Ltd.