The DONALD study (Dortmund Nutritional and Anthropometric Longitudinally Designed study) gives the opportunity to evaluate long-term food and nutrient intake data on the basis of 3 d weighed dietary records of infants, children and adolescents since 1985. In this paper, we examine changes in energy and macronutrient intakes (protein, fat, saturated, mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates and added sugars) of 795 2–18-year-old subjects between 1985 and 2000 (4483 records). No significant changes in intakes of energy and of protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids and added sugars (as % energy intake, E %) were found. Fat intake decreased significantly in all age groups (between -0·20 and -0·26 E %/year), as well as intake of saturated fatty acids (between -0·11 and -0·14 E %/year) and monounsaturated fatty acids (between -0·07 and -0·014 E %/year). This decline was compensated for by a significant increase in carbohydrate intake (between +0·18 and +0·27 E %/year). The changes in macronutrient intake were mainly due to a decreased consumption of fats–oils (between -0·29 and -1·26 g/year) and meat–fish–eggs (between -0·21 and -2·92 g/year), whereas consumption of bread–cereals (between +0·12 and +2·42 g/year) and potatoes–pasta–rice (between +0·15 and +2·26 g/year) increased slightly. However, since recommended fat intake and fatty acid composition was not reached at the end of the study period by far, further efforts will be necessary to improve macronutrient composition and to stabilize favourable dietary habits.