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Diet and nutrition in Australia - statistics & facts

Diet and nutrition in Australia According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, most Australians have a poor diet. The Australian dietary guidelines recommend a variety of foods including plenty of vegetables as well as fruit, grains, lean meat, and other protein, and low-fat dairy. However, Only around half of Australian adults eat the recommended daily serves of fruit and the vast majority are not consuming the recommended 5 to 6 servings of vegetables a day. Coupled with a high intake of discretionary foods like alcohol and salty snacks, long-term health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are some of the most prevalent in the Australian population.

International comparisons

When compared with similarly developed countries, Australia is not far behind the United States in terms of obesity rates and is largely on par with the obesity rates in the UK, New Zealand, and Canada, all with a rate of around 30 percent of the adult population. The overweight figures for many of these countries are similarly high, bringing the total share of the population which is obese or overweight to well over 50 percent in most western developed countries. Obesity rates are commonly followed by the prevalence of other diet-related illnesses such as cardiovascular disease which is responsible for a mortality rate of almost 80 deaths per 100,000 of the population. Unsurprisingly, the rate of undernourishment in Australia is very low, especially when compared with neighboring countries in the Asia Pacific region such as Timor-Leste and Indonesia.

 Diet related illness

Over one million Australians are diabetic and around one in five men over the age of 75 have type 2 diabetes. High cholesterol is even more prevalent than diabetes, affecting around six percent of the population, and heart disease is the leading cause of death in males. While a poor diet is one significant risk factor for these illnesses, smoking, being overweight, and lack of exercise can also contribute to increasing the risk of developing chronic disease. The risk factors contributing to chronic disease are most prominent in the adult population, however, a large proportion of Australian children are not meeting the Australian dietary guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption either. Being overweight is also an issue in the younger age groups, with around 15 percent of all children being overweight and almost a third of Australian children consuming sweetened drinks up to three times a week. Most children also ate more than the recommended amount of discretionary foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat, and sugar, but low in nutrients.

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