Why is healthy eating important?
Good nutrition is necessary to maintain healthy weight, mental and physical health, resistance to infection, quality of life, and for protection against chronic disease, premature death and disability.1 The role of food goes beyond providing nutrients, preventing disease and promoting health: food also has a social and cultural value. Food is frequently used in symbolic ways, playing an integral role in social bonding, relationships, and religious and social celebrations, and is a significant component of the cultural diversity in Australia.2
The evidence suggests that Australians need to eat more vegetables, fruit, grain (cereal) foods, low fat milk, yoghurt and cheese, lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, legumes or beans, nuts and seeds; and water instead of soft drinks, cordials, energy drinks, sports drinks and sweetened fruit juices and/or alcoholic drinks. They also need to reduce consumption of food and drinks that are high in saturated fat, added sugar, salt and alcohol, for example, most takeaway food from quick service outlets, cakes and biscuits, chocolate and confectionery, sweetened drinks, refined cereals, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, as well as high and medium fat dairy food and, for adult males only, red meat. 3
What should we be aiming for?
It is recommended that Australians consume a wide variety of nutritious foods in amounts to meet energy needs, and limit the intake of food and drinks containing high levels of saturated and trans fats, added salt, added sugars and alcohol. 3 The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide up-to-date advice about the amount and kinds of foods that we need to eat for health and well-being. The recommendations are based on scientific evidence, developed after looking at good quality research.
By following the dietary patterns recommended in the Guidelines, we will get enough of the nutrients essential for good health and also help reduce our risk of chronic health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and obesity.
Go to eatforhealth.gov.au for information about the amount and kinds of foods that we need to eat for health and well-being.
For Queensland adults and children:
- The mean energy intake of Queenslanders aged 19 years and older was 8511kJ in 2011-12 (9604kJ for males, 7423kJ for females), noting this is likely to be an underestimate. 4
- 37% o energy intake for Queenslanders aged 2 years and older was derived from discretionary foods, that is foods high in energy with little nutritional value, 36% for adults 19 years and older and 41% for children aged 2-18 years.4
- 58% of adults consumed the recommended druit serves dailing in 2014 (mean, 1.9 serves) and 65% of children in 2013 (mean, 2.0serves). 5, 6
- 9% of adults consumed the recommended vegetable serves daily in 2014 (mean, 2.5 serves) and 6% of children in 2013 (mean, 2.2 serves). 5, 6
- 45% of adults consumed full cream milk and 66% o children (2011) 7, 8
- 12% of adult consumed soft drink daily (2014) and 8.1% of children (2013)6, 5
- 30% of adults consumed takeaway food at least weekly (2014) and 48% of children (2011).7, 8
For infants in 2010:
- 96% of infants were ever breastfed.
- 25% of infants were exclusively breastfed to four months of age and 1.8% to six months.
- 35% of infants were introduced to solid food at four month of age
- 19% of infants received some breast milk at 12 months of age and 6.5% at 18 months.9
Find statistics specific for your region refer to The health of Queenslanders 2014 – Fifth report of the Chief Health Officer Queensland.
Find statistics specific for your local government area at Local government area – preventive health surveys.
- Dietitians Association of Australia. A modelling system to inform the revision of the Australian guide to healthy eating. National Health and Medical Research Council: Canberra; 2011.
- Sucher KP, Kittler PG. Food and culture. 5th ed. Belmont, California: Wadsworth; 2007.
- National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Dietary Guidelines. NHMRC; 2013.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Customised report: Australian health survey: nutrition first results – foods and nutrients, 2011-12. Cat. no. 4364.0.55.007. ABS: Canberra; 2014.
- Department of Health. Child Health status 2013: Queensland report. Queensland Government: Brisbane ; 2014.
- Department of Health. Self reported health status 2014. Preventive health indicators: Queensland. Queensland Government: Brisbane; 2014.
- Queensland Health. Child Health status 2011: Queensland report. Queensland Government: Brisbane; 2011.
- Queensland Health. Self reported health status 2011: fruit and vegetable consumption and factors associated with intentions to increase consumption, Queensland. Queensland Government: Brisbane; 2011.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2010 Australian national infant feeding survey: indicator results. Cat. no. PHE 156. AIHW: Canberra; 2011.