The purpose of the study was to determine patterns of diet use among middle-aged Australian men and women and the relationships between these different usage patterns and demographic characteristics, health status and health habits. A cross-sectional mail survey was conducted among a random sample of 2975 people aged 40–71 years in Victoria, Australia. A total of 1031 usable questionnaires were obtained which included information about the use of diets (e.g. low-fat and low-salt) during the past 3 months along with demographic information, health status and health habits. Based on the responses about the use of thirteen diets for both sexes, latent class analysis was employed to identify the optimal number of use of diets and the assignment of participants to particular groups. Three types of diet uses were identified and provisionally named: diet use, selected diet use and non-diet use. This classification was associated with demographics, health status and health habits, and these associations differed between men and women. The findings suggest that nutrition education programmes should be tailored to the different needs of the diet use groups.