Australia’s diet: what’s the score?
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released Australia’s Health 2020, the latest two-yearly “report card” on the health of Australians. This release is the 17th instalment of these biennial reports, which examine a wide range of health issues, from chronic disease and physical activity to diet.
So how are we doing as a nation, diet-wise? Well, most of us are still not eating the recommended number of serves of vegies, with boys and men doing slightly worse in this regard than women and girls. However, more of us are eating the recommended number of serves of fruit, and here, boys and men are doing better than girls and women.
Less than 10 percent of boys and girls under the age of 17 are drinking sugar-sweetened drinks – which includes soft drink, cordials, sports drinks and energy drinks – every day. But 12 percent of men are drinking them daily, while only around six percent of women are doing so. However, adults living in outer regional and remote areas are 14 percent more likely to consume sugar-sweetened drinks daily than people living in major cities.
The report also found that people living in regional remote areas were 53 percent less likely to eat the recommended number of serves of fruit, although daily vegie consumption in these areas was similar to city-dwellers. Adults living in the lowest socioeconomic areas were also less likely to meet fruit and veg recommendations than those living in the highest socioeconomic areas, although the report found the differences here were not large. But people in the lowest socioeconomic areas are three times more likely to drink sugar-sweetened drinks daily than those living in the highest socioeconomic areas.
When it comes to disease, poor diet is the third leading risk factor contributing to the burden of disease, after tobacco use and overweight and obesity. According to the report, more than 40 percent of cardiovascular disease burden and 34 percent of endocrine disease burden (such as diabetes) can be attributed to poor diet. In fact, diet-related chronic conditions are among the leading causes of death and disability in Australia.
Want to spruce up your own dietary report card? We’ve got some expert advice on eating for immunity, as well as the best diet for health and weight loss. We’ve also got some great tips on how to switch to a plant-based diet, a sure-fire way to boost fruit and veg intake.