Secondary data analyses of dietary surveys undertaken in South Africa to determine usual food consumption of the population.
Objective: The primary objective of this study was to generate a reference table of food items and average amounts of these items consumed by South Africans, for the Department of Health. The reference table was required to be representative of foods and beverages eaten frequently by children and adults from all age and ethnic groups in order for the Department of Health to test for contaminants in these foods. Design: The National Food Consumption Survey (NFCS) served as a framework for compiling data on children since this was a national representative survey of 1–9-year-old children undertaken in South Africa in 1999. However, there has never been a national dietary survey on adults in South Africa. Consequently the data had to be extrapolated from existing isolated surveys on adults. Secondary data analysis was conducted on existing dietary databases (raw data) obtained from surveys undertaken on adults in South Africa between 1983 and 2000. Available datasets were regional and independent, and were not individually representative of the South African diet. It was therefore necessary to use different statistical methods, including factor analyses, weighting and correlations, to generate ethnic and geographic representative data for adults. Two methods were used: Method 1, which corresponded with results of the NFCS (over-sampled for low socio-economic status), and Method 2, which was based on ethnic proportions of the population. Results: The secondary data analyses generated food items most commonly consumed by the South African adult population (Method 1) in descending frequency of usage and average (mean) amount per day: maize porridge (78%/848 g), white sugar (77%/27 g), tea (68%/456 g), brown bread (55%/165 g), white bread (28%/163 g), non-dairy creamer (25%/6 g), brick margarine (21%/19 g), chicken meat (19%/111 g), full-cream milk (19%/204 g) and green leaves (17%/182 g). In 6–9-yearolds, maize porridge (72%/426 g), sugar (76%/23 g), tea (51%/258 g), full-cream milk (35%/171 g) and white bread (33%/119 g) were eaten most frequently. Similarly, in 1–5-year-olds, the foods consumed most frequently were maize porridge (80%/426 g), sugar (76%/21 g), tea (44%/224 g), full-cream milk (39%/186 g) and white bread (24%/83 g). In order to evaluate the validity of the adult data generated, kilojoule values of the individual food items (per capita) were compared with food balance sheets (FBSs). The comparison was favourable except that the FBSs had a higher overall energy intake per capita of between 22 and 28%. Conclusion: Reference tables of commonly consumed foods and beverages were generated at minimal cost based on secondary data analyses of past dietary surveys in different South African populations. (author's)