Milk intake in Australian children
Nutrition Research Australia, headed up by Dr Flavia Fayet-Moore, was commissioned by Nestle to perform a secondary analysis of the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey exploring what Australian kids are eating (and drinking). We summarise her ‘deep dive into milk consumption’ research.
The secondary analysis used the first 24-hour dietary recall data of 2812 children and adolescents aged 2-18 years. The data were weighted to the Australian population and lineal models used to adjust for energy, demographic, anthropometric and lifestyle variables.
Milk: dairy, fluid, including powdered milk but excluding evaporated and condensed milk
Flavoured milk: plain milk with flavouring (sugar, honey, syrup, topping, cocoa powder, malt powder, beverage base), including pre-made beverages and fortified flavoured milk
Other milk: milk in other forms not defined above such as milk on cereal, milkshake, smoothie, thick shake or milk in cooking
- The majority of children consumed milk, with almost two-thirds consuming it as a beverage. Of those milk drinkers, 46% drank it plain, 32% drank it flavoured and 21% drank ‘other milk’ such as milkshakes and smoothies.
- Plain milk was the most commonly consumed with a mean intake of 339g/day, followed by flavoured milk with a mean intake of 296g/day.
- Fifty two percent of flavoured milk drinkers consumed a fortified flavoured milk.
- Milk consumption decreased with age. Fifty three percent of 2-3-year old’s drank plain milk, compared with only 11% of 14-18 year old’s. Adolescents 14-18 yrs had the lowest intake of plain milk and were the highest group with no milk intake (26% were ‘milk avoiders’). This was the only group in which flavoured milk was more popular than plain milk. The highest prevalence of flavoured milk drinking was in the 9-13 yr age group.
- Plain and flavoured milk drinkers had the highest consumption of dairy foods vs milk-avoiders who had the lowest.
- Drinking milk was the driver of total dairy intake. However there was no difference in other dairy intake (yoghurt, cheese) between milk intake groups.
- Plain and flavoured milk drinkers had the highest calcium, phosphorous and iodine intakes.
- Flavoured milk drinkers had a higher iron intake than plain milk drinkers, likely due to the flavoured milks being fortified (one in two drank fortified flavoured milk).
- About three-quarters of plain and flavoured milk drinkers met calcium targets, compared to less than 40% of all other children.
Image Copyright Nestle Australia, used with permission
- Plain milk drinkers had the lowest percent energy contribution from free sugars and were the least likely to exceed the WHO 10% Energy from free sugars target.
- Plain milk drinkers had the lowest energy contribution from discretionary free sugars.
- Children who drank ‘other milk’ (eg milkshakes) were the most likely to exceed the WHO 10% target.
- Plain and flavoured milk drinkers were least likely to consume sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) (less than half consumed SSBs), while milk-avoiders and ‘other milk’ drinkers were the most likely to consume SSBs (59% of each group).
- Children who did not drink plain or flavoured milk were more likely to drink sugar sweetened beverages such as soft drinks (SSBs).
Profiles of milk consumer groups
- Milk consumption (plain, flavoured, other milk, or avoiders) was not associated with BMI z-score or waist-height ratio, which indicate overweight/obesity.
- Levels of physical activity only significantly differed in one milk intake group: over 80% of 18-year old plain and flavoured milk drinkers met physical activity recommendations compared to less than half for all other milk intake groups.
You can access the study report here.
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