STUDY OBJECTIVE--To determine the socio-demographic, attitudinal, and dietary correlates of high and low fat consumption in the community. DESIGN--The study was undertaken using a postal survey format. A questionnaire was sent for self completion to a randomised sample of the adult population of two Australian states. PARTICIPANTS--Adult participants were selected randomly from the Electoral Rolls of the states of Victoria and South Australia. As voting at elections is compulsory in Australia, these rolls contain the names of all Australian citizens over the age of 18 years. Altogether 3209 respondents completed the survey giving a response rate of 67%. MAIN RESULTS--Lower than average fat consumption was more common in women. Age was a significant factor only in men. Occupation was not related to lower than average fat consumption but manual work and low occupational prestige were linked to higher than average consumption in men. People with a history of conditions related to heart disease were more likely to be low consumers but medical history did not distinguish high from average consumers. Low fat consumption was linked to higher refined and natural sugar consumption and higher alcohol consumption, but protein and complex carbohydrate consumption did not vary with fat consumption. Low fat diets also had higher densities of fibre and most vitamins and minerals, the exceptions being retinol, zinc, and vitamin B12, nutrients generally linked to meat and dairy consumption. Of the latter, only the low zinc concentrations, which are already borderline in the community, pose a potential nutritional problem. CONCLUSIONS--This study showed very strong links between dietary fat intake and the intake of nearly all other nutrients in the diet. The results highlight the need to consider relationships between nutrients not only for purposes of nutrition education but also in relation to nutritional epidemiology studies.
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