The determinants of fat intake in a multi-ethnic New Zealand population
Swinburn BA., Walter L., Ricketts H., Whitlock G., Law B., Norton R., Jackson R., MacMahon S.
Background: The New Zealand diet is high in total and saturated fat and this is likely to be contributing to the increasing prevalence of obesity and relatively high rates of coronary heart disease in New Zealand. The identification of subgroups with a high-fat intake will enable nutrition-related public health strategies to be better targeted. Methods: Subjects from two surveys were included in the study: 7574 employees from a large multinational workforce survey and 2447 people aged 35-84 years selected from a stratified random sample of the electoral roll in central Auckland. Fat and saturated fat intake were assessed by short questionnaire which gave a dietary fat habits (DFH) score and supplemented by a six-item food frequency questionnaire. Results: The DFH scores were higher in males than in females at all ages, and there was an inverse relationship with age which was stronger for males. Age-adjusted scores showed significantly higher DFH scores for Maori than for Europeans. Lower socioeconomic status was associated with higher DFH scores in males. Current smoking and heavy drinking (in males) were associated with significantly higher DFH scores after controlling for socioeconomic status. The results of the limited food frequency questionnaire supported the trends in DFH scores. Conclusions: The subgroups with high total and saturated fat intakes which should be a priority for public health action are young and middle-aged males, Maori and lower socioeconomic status males. The clustering of high-fat intake with smoking and heavy drinking should be considered when developing preventive strategies.