Aussies need to shape up eating habits to improve health

AUSTRALIANS are being encouraged to eat healthier, with release of updated national dietary guidelines today.

The guidelines were last updated in 2003, and the latest update takes into account improved evidence of the increased risk of some diseases to excessive consumption of certain foods.

Major changes to the guidelines included a move from recommendation on how much specific nutrients people should eat to a focus on food choice.

The National Health and Medical Research Council released a statement which said the guidelines essentially aim to improve health and well-being and reduce the risk of chronic disease and diet-related conditions such as obesity.

Such conditions were on the rise, the NHMRC said, with 60% of Australian adults and 25% of children now overweight or obese, a figure expected to rise to 83% of men and 75% of women to be obese by 2025.

The cost of obesity in Australia was reported in 2008 at more than $8 billion, primarily due to poor diet related to excessive consumption of energy-dense, nutrition-poor food high saturated fats, sugar and salts.

Under the new guidelines, Australians were advised to be physically active everyday, enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods and limit their intake of food high in saturated fat, salt, sugars and alcohol.


New Dietary Guidelines

  • To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious foods and drinks to meet your energy needs.
  • Children and teenagers should eat enough nutritious foods to grow and develop, while older people should also eat well and keep physically active to maintain muscle strength.
  • Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods, including vegetables; fruit; wholegrains and high cereal fibre; lean meats and poultry; reduced fat dairy foods (and drink plenty of water).
  • Limit intake of high saturated fat foods, or those with added salt, sugars or alcohol; such as pizza, commercial burgers, fried foods, cakes, pasties and crisps.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, limit intake, and pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy of breastfeeding should not drink alcohol.
  • Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding.
  • Care for food; prepare and store it safely.

SOURCE: National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013.