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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1392

Senator FOREMAN —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and relates to the alarming findings of a recent Commonwealth nutrition task force. The task force's report `Towards Better Nutrition for Australia' shows that almost 60 per cent of deaths in this country were from diet-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease and that nearly 25 per cent of these deaths involved people aged under 65. The task force also reported that lifestyle-related diseases had emerged as a serious problem among adult Aborigines. Will the Minister state what plans the Government has to redress these findings and better educate Australians on the importance of good nutrition?

Senator TATE —The Government shares the concern of Senator Foreman with regard to diet-related deaths and diseases as revealed by the nutrition task force. The initial response of the Government-I stress that it is only in its early stages-includes the following elements: The provision of nutrition education for all Australians to enable them to make healthy food choices to be developed in conjunction with States, Territories and community organisations; an urgent update of the recommended dietary intakes of nutrients for all Australians for all age groups; and the further development of a nation nutrient databank. Dietary surveys have already been undertaken with adults 25 to 64 years old and of school children aged between 10 and 15 years. Plans for surveys of other age groups and community groups considered to be at special risk are being urgently considered.

Methods of providing comprehensive health care programs for Aboriginal people-I notice Senator Foreman especially mentioned the findings of the task force in this regard-are already the subject of close study and activity by several departments. The nutrition task force blamed the transition from traditional lifestyle to a largely sedentary lifestyle for the increase in diet-related disease in Aboriginal people. The Government gives high priority to the nutrition of all Australians because of the impact bad nutrition has on health, including cardiovascular disease, which the Better Health Commission identified as accounting for half of all the deaths in this nation.