Report exposes Australia’s bad dietary habits

Matt Woodley

12/03/2019 4:36:44 PM

Less than 5% of Australian adults eat the recommended amount of vegetables, while more than half are overweight or obese, the AIHW has found.

Woman chopping vegetables
The AIHW report found females are generally less likely to be overweight or obese than men. (Image: World Obesity image bank)

The lack of vegetables is generally combined with too much food that is high in energy and low in nutrients – in particular sugar, saturated fat and sodium.
The poor dietary habits, laid bare in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) most recent Nutrition – Across the life stages report, are compounded with not enough exercise, often leading to people carrying too much weight.
According to the report, these habits are developed as early as two years of age and are often linked to the development of chronic conditions, which are the major cause of ill health in Australia.
Statistics based on average food intake found males aged 14 and over do not eat any of the recommended number of serves of any of the five food groups, while around one-third of males’ energy comes from discretionary food – ie sugar and saturated fats.
Males aged 14–18 eat an average of 20 teaspoons of sugar per day, and 3.4 times more sodium than the maximum their bodies need. More than 70% of the same age group do not consume the recommended amount of calcium.
More than half of males aged 19–30 are classified as overweight or obese, a number that reaches 73% among males aged 31–50.
Australia’s female population produced similar results. From the age of 14, based on average intake, females do not eat the recommended number of serves of any of the five food groups – except for females aged 71 and over, who eat the recommended amount of grain foods.
All female age groups derive an average of more than 30% of their energy intake from discretionary food, while the proportion of females who do not consume the recommended amount of calcium skyrockets after the age of 14.
However, females are generally less likely to be overweight or obese than men – especially prior to the age of 30 – and they generally consume enough folate, iodine, vitamin D and vitamin B12.
Half of all Australians aged 19–50 do not do enough exercise, while 97% do not eat enough vegetables.
Included in the report are five dietary guidelines that can be used to provide advice about the types and amount of foods required for health and wellbeing. Generally, the guidelines encourage a physically active lifestyle coupled with a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, grain foods, protein and some dairy.
The report also warns of the importance of limiting saturated fat, added salt, sugars and alcohol, and encourages breastfeeding.

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Dr Virginia Lee Reid   13/03/2019 3:44:32 PM

Good to know but not sure why you guys dont quote the EAT -Lancet commissioned report so we can also be informed about the impact this diet choice and overeating is having on the planet? CLimate change is after all a huge public health issues no??