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Nutrition report card: Australians - what we eat and drink.

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Media Release


The Hon Dr Michael Wooldridge

Minister for Health and Aged Care



28 January1999





Australians need to eat lots more fruit, vegetables, cereals, fish and milk products and eat a lot less pastries, sticky buns, sweet biscuits and fatty fast foods, according to a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today.


Responding to the report, National Nutrition Survey — Foods Eaten — Australia 1995 , part of a major National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Department of Health and Aged Care and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Federal Health and Aged Care Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, said Australians were moving towards eating a more balanced and varied diet, with nutrition from most of the major food groups being represented in their diet.


“Senior nutritionists have given Australians an overall “B” grading for their attention to good nutrition but they caution that there is still room for improvement,” he said.


The Report is based on the biggest and most comprehensive nutrition survey ever held in Australia and gives an invaluable insight into what Australians actually eat and drink providing vital information about how people can improve their diets and their health.


“Drawn from a snapshot of 14,000 Australians, this report shows that we’re rating a ‘B’ for our eating habits, but we still have to improve in a few areas before we’ll score an overall ‘A’,” Dr Wooldridge said.


“We need to eat more breads, cereals and cereal products, another serve of fruit each day, several more serves of vegetables, another serve of milk and milk products and to include fish two or three times a week.


“The good news that the report singles out is our solid consumption of foods including meat products, the fact that we are drinking good amounts of water and do not consume too much added fats and oils with our foods.


“But perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the report is that it shows some groups of Australians are already meeting the challenge of healthy eating and drinking and so leading by example.


“Australians born in East Asia for example, got an A plus from our nutritionists for their excellent daily average intake of cereal and cereal products.


“Adults in rural and remote areas scored higher than other groups because they were reported eating half a serve more of their vegetables daily than their metropolitan counterparts.


“Similarly, people living in the most disadvantaged socio-economic areas achieved a slightly higher intake of vegetables than others.”


Dr Wooldridge said the message about good diet and good health is as simple as the food and drink we buy at our supermarkets or stores.


“It is clear from the Report that Australians fill up our shopping trolleys with some favourite foods such as potatoes, breads and bread rolls, dairy milk, breakfast cereals, apples, carrots, cabbage, meat, beer and sweet biscuits and fatty fast foods.


“Some of these are very nutritious and good for us — others are not so nutritious and don’t help make us healthier nor help prevent key diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and many cancers.


“Similarly a well-balanced diet high in folate rich foods for women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy can help prevent the incidence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the unborn.


"This Report gives us grounds for real hope that the message about the role of a nutritious diet plays in preventing disease and promoting good health is being received by Australians.


“The Report has the undoubted potential to help us all, in particular our nutritionists, the food industry and health professionals, to assess the weak spots in our diet and identify how to make better choices so that perhaps, in future, the Australia n population will do even better on our nutrition Report Card,” Dr Wooldridge said.


Media Contact: Kay McNiece, Dr Wooldridge’s Office 0412 132 585

Mary Shiers, Population Health, Dept. Health and Aged Care

0412 108386