Objective: The primary aim of this study was to estimate the impact of mandatory folic acid (FA) fortification of bread-making flour on the FA intake of Australian women of childbearing age (16–44 years). The secondary objective was to investigate the relationship between estimated FA intake and socio-economic status (SES) and age.
Method: Dietary modelling was used to estimate FA intake under four mandatory fortification scenarios – no supplement use, supplement use unrelated to FA intake, supplement use only among the highest consumers of bread, and increased supplement use. Data were obtained from the 1995 National Nutrition Survey for food intake patterns, the 2007 Victorian Population Health Survey for FA supplement use, and a marketplace survey.
Results: It is estimated that the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommendation for an additional 400 mg/day FA will be achieved by a minimum of 3.9, 25.4, 21.7 and 30% of the target population under scenarios 1–4, respectively. The FA upper level of intake is exceeded by a maximum of 0.1, 1.7, 6.1 and 4.1% of the target population for scenarios 1–4, respectively.
Conclusions: Mandatory FA fortification is not sufficient for the NHMRC recommendations for minimum and maximum intakes to be met by all of the target population under a number of plausible behaviour scenarios.
Implications: Targeted nutrition education campaigns are needed for SES and age sub-groups and research of this nature should be extended to other population groups. Monitoring and evaluation of this policy will be important to ensure appropriate FA intake.