Background: The 2011/12 Australian Health Survey indicated mean intake of the dairy food group is below the minimum recommended level for all population groups. With the timing of the next national nutrition survey unknown, on-going, regular monitoring of dairy intake is needed.
Aim: To investigate use of an alternative source of data to monitor dairy consumption between national nutrition surveys.
Methods: Domestic consumption of milk, cheese and yoghurt was calculated for each year using company sales data from all major dairy companies, Australian Bureau of Statistics commodity import data and a specialty cheese survey. This captured both direct consumption (e.g. supermarket dairy food purchases) and indirect consumption (e.g. dairy foods as ingredients in other foods). Adjustments were made for waste (29%). These industry-derived figures were compared with intake data for these foods collected in the 1995/96 and 2011/12 national nutrition surveys (with the former concorded to the latter).
Results: Industry figures suggest that, between 1995/6 and 2011/2, there was a small increase of 0.2 serves/day in per capita milk, yoghurt and cheese intake, from 1.4 to 1.6 serves/d. In contrast, results from the national nutrition surveys suggest a decline of 0.2 serves/day during this period, from 1.5 to 1.3 serves/d. Some of this variation may be due to differences in coding between the nutrition surveys, particularly in relation to cheese contained in mixed dishes, and mis-reporting.
Conclusion: The divergence in results highlights the need for on-going, regular, national dietary intake monitoring using consistent methodology.
Funding source: Dairy Australia