Year

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Health Sciences

Abstract

An accurate dietary assessment of n-3 LCPUFA intake is necessary to monitor the possibility of the emergence of nutrition issues related to the consumption of these fats. In Australia, however, limited information is available on dietary assessment of EPA, DPA and DHA intake in the population of children.

The central aim of this thesis is to assess current intakes of EPA, DPA and DHA, and options that may potentially be used to modify intake of these fatty acids in Australian children’s diet.

The research designs used in this thesis are as follows: (1) Secondary analysis of n-3 LCPUFA intakes of the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey; (2) Survey of barriers and promoting factors to the consumption of fish and foods enriched with n-3 in Australian families with young children; (3) Dietary modelling of n-3 LCPUFA; (4) Food patterns analysis in relation to n-3 LCPUFA; and (5) Development and validation of an n-3 LCPUFA FFQ for Australian children.

The main results were as follows: (1) Energy-adjusted intakes of EPA, DPA and DHA in children who ate fish were 7.5, 2 and 16-fold higher, respectively (p < 0.001) compared to those who did not eat fish during the two days of the survey. Fish and seafood products were the largest contributors to DHA (76%) and EPA (59%) intake, while meat, poultry and game products contributed to 56% DPA.

(2) Perceived health benefits, and the influence of media and health professionals were identified as the primary motivators for consumption of fish/seafood, and foods enriched with n-3 LCPUFA. Among families who consumed fish, taste was valued as having a major positive influence, as well as preferences of individual family members, but the latter were perceived as an obstacle in non-fish consumers. Price was the main barrier to consumption of fresh, but not canned, fish and n-3 enriched foods, in both those that did and did not consume these foods.

(3) Replacement of four commonly consumed food items with n-3 enriched for these foods would result in substantially improved n-3 intakes in Australian children, especially in non-fish eaters, without major changes to their current food habits.

(4) Dietary patterns associated with a high consumption of vegetables in boys and take-away fish in girls were likely to positively influence dietary n-3 LCPUFA intake in Australian children.

(5) The n-3 LCPUFA FFQ developed in this study provided an acceptably valid estimate of dietary n-3 LCPUFA intake of Australian children aged 9-13 years, when compared to intake obtained by a 7-day food diary.

The results of this thesis provide a number of resources that could be used to develop and monitor nutrition intervention programs designed to increase n-3 LCPUFA intakes of Australian children.

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