Food group categories used in dietary analysis can misrepresent the amount and type of fat present in foods

Neil Mann, Yvonne Ashton, Stella O'Connell, Andrew Sinclair, Fiona Kelly

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To determine whether analysis of food intake data using different food group classification systems changes the apparent contribution of defined food groups to total daily fat intake. Design: Three food classification systems were used to assess dietary intake of male omnivore subjects from a food frequency questionnaire. Setting: RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. Subjects: A total of 78 healthy men aged 20-55 years, divided by meat consumption into moderate meat-eaters (n = 60) and high meat-eaters (n = 18). Methods: Dietary intake data were collected as semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaires and analysed using the NUTTAB 95 database. The contribution of food groups to nutrient intakes was determined using three food classification systems. Results: When red meat was grouped with meat, poultry and game products and dishes, 'meat' contributed 19.8% of total fat to a diet typical of an adult Australian man. When lean meat cuts were distinguished from meat products or dishes and fast foods, 'red meat cuts' provided only 4.3% of the total fat in this diet, whereas 'fast foods' provided 18.7%. Conclusions: Food classification systems have a profound impact on the apparent nutrient content of defined food groups, particularly the fat content attributed to meats. Less precise systems may result in provision of misleading dietary advice. Meats such as lean beef and lamb can be a valuable part of a healthy diet by providing important nutrients, especially iron, zinc and vitamin B12, but relatively little fat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalNutrition and Dietetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Dietary advice
  • Fat content
  • Food classification system
  • Food group
  • Meat
  • Omega-3 fatty acid

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