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Public Health Nutr. 2017 Aug;20(12):2157-2165. doi: 10.1017/S1368980017000982. Epub 2017 Jun 5.

Exploratory analysis of meal composition in Australia: meat and accompanying foods.

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Charles Perkins Centre,School of Life and Environmental Sciences,The University of Sydney,Camperdown,NSW 2006,Australia.



The study of meal patterns and overall diet in relation to health outcomes may be more important than focusing on single nutrients or food groups. The present study aimed to explore the composition of main meals and snacks in the Australian population and examine associations between meat/poultry/fish and other foods.


The study utilised 24 h recalls. Meal composition was defined based on average intakes of food groups per meal disaggregated from all food sources.


2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.


Australian people (n12153) aged 2 years or above.


Overall, breakfast was the smallest meal of the day, typically consisting of grains, dairy products and fruit. Lunch was the second largest meal, consisting mostly of grains, non-starchy vegetables and meat/poultry/fish. The largest meal was dinner, comprising meat/poultry/fish, vegetables (starchy and non-starchy), grains and often including discretionary beverages (children) or alcohol (adults). The main food groups consumed at snacking occasions were dairy, fruit, discretionary foods and beverages (including alcohol for adults). The most frequently consumed meat types were beef and chicken at dinner and ham at lunch. Non-starchy vegetables were accompanying foods for red meat, poultry and fish/seafood consumed in varying portion sizes, but did not accompany processed meat.


The present study considered meat, poultry and fish as the meal centre and their accompaniments of other food groups at different eating occasions. These findings expand the background evidence for health professionals developing meal-based framework/guidelines and public health messages.


Diet; Dietary pattern; Eating behaviour; Eating occasion; Meal composition; Meat

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