Disparities exist between the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and the dietary intakes of young children aged two to three years

Li K Chai, Lesley Macdonald-Wicks, Alexis J Hure, Tracy L Burrows, Michelle L Blumfield, Roger Smith, Clare E Collins

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Aim To compare dietary intakes of young children to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) and Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs). Methods Dietary intakes of 54 children (50% girls) aged two to three years (mean 2.7 years) from the Women and Their Children's Health (WATCH) study were reported by mothers using a validated 120-item food frequency questionnaire. Daily consumption of AGHE food group servings, macronutrients, and micronutrients were compared to the AGHE and NRVs using t-test with significance set at P < 0.05. Results No child achieved all AGHE targets, with the majority consuming less breads/cereals (1.9 vs 4.0 servings/day), vegetables (1.3 vs 2.5), and meat/alternatives (0.7 vs 1.0), all P < 0.0001. Adequate servings were observed for dairy (2.2 vs 1.5) and fruit (1.3 vs 1.0). Macronutrients were within recommended ranges, although 96% exceeded saturated fatty acid recommendations. Children who met selected NRVs consumed more fruit (1.4 vs 1.0; P < 0.0086), dairy (2.2 vs 1.5; P < 0.0001) and discretionary foods (2.6 vs ≤1.0; P < 0.0001) but less breads/cereals (2.0 vs 4.0; P < 0.0001) and vegetables (1.3 vs 2.5; P < 0.0001) servings, compared to the AGHE recommended servings. Conclusions Child dietary intakes did not align with AGHE, while adequate nutrient profiles were achieved by various dietary patterns. Future studies involving data from larger, representative samples of children are warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-320
Number of pages9
JournalNutrition and Dietetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
  • children
  • dietary intake
  • Nutrient Reference Values
  • nutritionalstatus

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