As many of you may be aware, the new Australia Dietary Guidelines were released in mid-February 2013. In all Australians, nutrition contributes significantly to healthy weight, quality of life and wellbeing, resistance to infection, and protection against chronic disease and premature death. As the quality and quantity of foods and drinks consumed has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals, society and the environment, better nutrition has huge potential to improve individual and public health and decrease healthcare costs.

Optimum nutrition is essential for the normal growth and physical and cognitive development of infants and children. Suboptimal nutrition is associated with ill health. Many diet-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer are major causes of death and disability among Australians.

Below is the summarised version of the guidelines:

Australian Dietary Guidelines

Guideline 1 To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and   choose amounts of

nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs.

  • Children   and adolescents should eat sufficient nutritious foods to grow and develop normally.   They should be physically active every day and their growth should be checked   regularly.
  • Older   people should eat nutritious foods and keep physically active to help   maintain muscle strength and a healthy weight..
Guideline 2 Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five groups every   day:

  • Plenty   of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans
  • Fruit
  • Grain   (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as   breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and   barley
  • Lean   meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
  • Milk,   yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat (reduced fat milks   are not suitable for children under the age of 2 years)
  • And   drink plenty of water.
Guideline 3 Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added   sugars and alcohol.

a)      Limit   intake of foods high in saturated fat such as many biscuits, cakes, pastries,   pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps   and other savoury snacks.

  •   Replace high fat foods which contain   predominantly saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine,   coconut and palm oil with foods which contain predominantly polyunsaturated   and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and   avocado.
  •   Low fat diets are not suitable for children   under the age of 2 years.

b)      Limit   intake of foods and drinks containing added salt.

  •   Read labels to choose lower sodium options   among similar foods.
  •   Do not add salt to foods in cooking or at the   table.

c)       Limit   intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars such as confectionary,

sugar-sweetened soft drinks   and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and

sports drinks.

d)      If   you choose to drink alcohol, limit intake. For women who are pregnant,   planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest   option.

Guideline 4 Encourage,   support and promote breastfeeding
Guideline 5 Care for   your food; prepare and store it safely.

 

To read the full version, with the evidence listed you can access it from – http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/publications/n55

So what do the new guidelines mean for you and your family?

The new guidelines are encouraging people to think in terms of energy balance, rather than from food and drink. The NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) encourages people to monitor the food they east, as well as paying attention to their exercise.

Since the release of the guidelines the main source of controversy has been in regards to the addition of the advice to ‘limit added sugar.’ The Australian Food and Grocery Council have fiercely opposed the inclusion of this statement. The evidence over the past decade has support this inclusion of the statement, particularly in concerns to drinks. It is well recognised that drinks containing added sugar can contribute large amounts of energy to an individual’s daily intake. We often refer to this type of drink/food as ‘empty calories’ as there is no/little nutritional benefit from consuming the food only the calories.

Sally Muir – Dietitian

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