Relationship between discretionary food intake and sex, body image, health, and geographical remoteness among Indigenous Australian adolescents

Michelle Blumfield, Andrew McConnell, Peter Petocz, Anika Rouf, Emily Duve, Scott B Teasdale, Skye Marshall, Flavia Fayet-Moore

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Determine the discretionary energy intake of Indigenous Australian adolescents and its relationship with sex, body image, health, and geographical remoteness.

Cross-sectional data from the 2012 to 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (n = 264, 15–17 years). Dietary data were collected using an Automated Multiple-Pass Method, anthropometric data by trained interviewers; self-perceived measures of body weight, level of satisfaction with current weight, and self-assessed health were self-reported. General linear models were used to investigate predictors.

Discretionary energy intake contributed 35.4% and 54.2% of total energy intake for males and females, respectively, primarily from the sub-groups: soft drinks; pastries; potatoes; sugar, honey and syrups; cordials; and potato snacks. Discretionary energy intake was associated with higher energy intake (p < 0.001) and self-perceived body weight (p = 0.022), while sex had significant interactions with self-assessed health (psex = 0.005), satisfaction with current weight (psex < 0.001), and geographical remoteness (psex = 0.007). Contribution of discretionary energy intake to total energy intake was greatest for males with an increased risk of metabolic complications (50% vs. 37%; p > 0.05), those who perceived themselves to be overweight (56% vs. 27%; p < 0.001), and those who were dissatisfied with their weight (56% vs. 19%; p < 0.001), compared to females. No differences were found by dieting status, risk of metabolic complications, and under-reporting of energy intake.

Discretionary energy intake was excessive among Indigenous Australian adolescents and had relationships with self-perceived health, weight satisfaction, and geographical remoteness, which was moderated by sex. To successfully reduce discretionary food intake among Indigenous Australian adolescents, further research is required to develop sex specific and culturally appropriate strategies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNutrition and Dietetics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Mar 2022


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