The demography of food in health security: Current experience with dairy consumption in Taiwan Academic Article uri icon


  • To establish a food guide, the "total diet" needs to be considered, based on prevailing patterns of food and nutrient intake; these will be culturally acceptable and recognize the prevailing social and economic conditions that affect food availability. Dairy produce is a good source of high quality protein, and provides significant amounts of vitamins and minerals. People who consume more dairy have higher intakes of calcium and vitamin B2 with less chance of deficiency. We used four National Nutrition Surveys in Taiwan (NAHSITs) to establish the current demographic predictors of dairy intakes, an indicator of food security in an affluent society. There was a U shape relationship between dairy consumption practices (whether or not) and age. In Taiwanese, the practice is higher in school children (49.3%), adolescents (32.1%) and elderly (43.6%) than it is in middle age (22.2-25.9%). Average daily dairy intake decreases with age; in the elderly, the intake is less than half a serving. Forty seven percent of first grade children consumed a serving or more of dairy while the 6th graders dropped to 37%. Less than 20% adults consume one serving or more a day. The rate increases to 40% for elderly. Physiologic limitation and dietary habit account for 25% and 50% of dairy avoidance, respectively. Education, financial status, ethnicity, regionality and health seeking behaviors are determinants of dairy consumption in all age groups. There is a need for alternative Food Guides for non-dairy consumers. Attention to dairy intake for socio-economically disadvantaged groups is required.

publication date

  • September 1, 2009