Australians falling short of daily nutrition goals, urgent action needed


Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has raised concerns about Australians failing to meet recommended daily nutrition guidelines.

According to Dietitians Australia, the nation is falling short in purchasing essential food groups, prompting a call for immediate action to address the issue.

The ABS report indicates a decline in overall food purchases across the country, particularly in core food groups such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and cereals. Notably, there has been a significant reduction in the consumption of vegetables, legumes, and beans, dropping from 2.4 serves to 2.2 serves per day on average.

Dietitians Australia President Tara Diversi emphasises the importance of meeting the recommended intake of these essential food groups. The Australian Dietary Guidelines advises adults to consume an average of 5 servings of vegetables, legumes and beans daily. However, the ABS findings suggest that Australians are only meeting less than half of this requirement on average.

In addition to the decline in nutritious food purchases, the data reveals an increase in discretionary food items, including potato chips, chocolate and energy drinks. Diversi stresses the need for Australians to prioritise purchasing nutrient-rich foods like seasonal fruits and vegetables, legumes, and beans while reducing spending on sugary, salty and fatty discretionary items.

Poor dietary habits contribute significantly to chronic disease risk factors in Australia, underscoring the importance of access to affordable, nutritious foods. Diversi advocates for accessible personalised nutrition therapy provided by Accredited Practising Dietitians, along with policy actions aimed at empowering individuals to make healthier choices.

The impending redevelopment of Australia’s National Nutrition Policy is crucial in addressing these concerns. Dietitians Australia urges policymakers to prioritise this initiative and secure funding for its implementation. With rising living costs, many Australians are cutting back on their food budgets, highlighting the need for comprehensive food and nutrition monitoring.

DAA’s 2024 Budget Submission calls on the Government to invest in a national food and nutrition surveillance program. Such data is essential for informing policy decisions regarding food accessibility, affordability, and availability across all communities. As Diversi emphasises, “You can’t mend what you don’t measure – and in Australia, we don’t routinely measure food and nutrition data, including actual food intake and levels of household food security.”

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

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