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Too much food, too little balance on Aussie plates
13 Aug 2012

Many Australians are eating too much of some foods and not enough of others, according to a report released in July by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

'The report shows that many Australians are not striking a balance between foods high in fat and sugar and more nutritious choices,' said AIHW spokesperson Lisa McGlynn. ‘Treat’ or extra foods are generally high in energy and low in nutrients. They include takeaway items, crisps, sweet biscuits, cakes and pastries, confectionery, soft drinks and alcohol.  On average, extra foods contributed to 36% of energy intake for adults and 41% for children, which is more than the recommended 0–3 serves of 'extras' per day (depending on age and stage). In addition, the majority of adults and children had higher energy intakes from total sugars and saturated fat than recommended—that is, a maximum of 20% from sugars and 10% from saturated and trans fats combined.

More than 9 in 10 people aged 16 and over don’t eat the recommended 5 serves of vegetables, adolescent girls don’t eat enough dairy foods or alternatives, and 25% of men and 10% of women aged 65 and over don’t eat enough protein foods.

‘'There are some factors that discourage Australians from eating well and maintaining a healthy body weight,' Ms McGlynn said. 'The cost of healthy food is increasing at a faster rate than the cost of less healthy food, particularly in remote areas, where a healthy basket of food can cost up to 30% more than in capital cities. This may influence some people to buy less healthy foods due to limited choice and high cost.'

Full reports: Australia’s food & nutrition 2012  and Australia’s food & nutrition: in brief