Adequacy of iron intakes and socio-demographic factors associated with iron intakes of Australian pre-schoolers

  • Linda A. Atkins
  • Sarah A. McNaughton
  • Alison C. Spence
  • Ewa A. Szymlek-GayEmail author
Original Contribution



To estimate the prevalence of inadequate iron intakes and identify socio-demographic factors associated with iron intakes of Australian children aged 2–5 years.


Data from the 2011–2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey component of the Australian Health Survey were analysed (n = 783, 2–5 years old). Dietary intake was assessed via two non-consecutive 24-h recalls. Prevalence of inadequate iron intake was estimated using the full probability approach after estimating the distribution of usual intakes with PC-SIDE. Associations between potential socio-demographic factors and energy-adjusted iron intakes were assessed via linear regression accounting for the complex survey design.


Mean (SD) iron intakes for pre-schoolers were 7.9 (1.9) mg/day and the prevalence of inadequate iron intake was 10.1% (95% CI 7.9%, 12.1%). Male sex (mean difference between boys and girls: − 0.22 (95% CI − 0.03, − 0.41) mg/day; p = 0.022) and age (each additional year was associated with 0.11 (95% CI − 0.22, − 0.00) mg/day lower iron intake; p = 0.048) were negatively associated with pre-schooler iron intakes.


This study provides current data relating to the iron nutrition of Australian pre-schoolers. Poor iron intakes continue to be a problem for 10% of Australian children beyond the second year of life, with iron intakes being lower for boys compared to girls and declining with age. Future research should examine strategies to improve iron intakes of young children, with a focus on promoting iron-rich food sources.


Iron intake Pre-schooler Child 24-h recall Australia Socio-demographic factors 



SA McNaughton is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Career Development Fellowship Level 2 (ID1104636).

Author contributions

EAS-G conceptualized and designed the current study; LAA, EAS-G, and SAM developed data analysis plan; LAA carried out statistical analyses; EAS-G performed PC-SIDE analyses; LAA wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the interpretation of results, critically revised the manuscript, and read and approved the final manuscript as submitted.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standards

The Census and Statistics Act, 1905 provides the authority for the Australian Bureau of Statistics to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. Therefore, all information received by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has been treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

394_2019_1897_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (77 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 76 KB)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), School of Exercise and Nutrition SciencesDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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