Final revision of Australian Dietary Guidelines released

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 18th February 2013

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) today released revised Australian Dietary Guidelines which the NHMRC said was a “clear and practical approach” to health.

Since the last set of Australian Dietary Guidelines in 2003, the focus has shifted to healthier foods options, as opposed to the previous guidelines that focused on specific amounts of nutrients that should be consumed.   The new guidelines also reflect Australian food supply and consumption patterns.

The new 2013 guidelines have been described as having a strong focus on dietary patterns across life stages and supporting “family-focused dietary patterns.” The guidelines were based on a review of around 55,000 scientific publications that strengthen scientific evidence linking diet to health outcomes.

Amongst its many recommendations, the revised Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend the following:

  1. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs.
  2. Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five groups every day including vegetables (with the addition of legumes and beans), fruit, wholegrain and high-fibre cereal varieties, lean meats and poultry (with the inclusion of fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds), and mostly reduced-fat dairy products.
  3. Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol. The recommendations include replacing saturated fats with “good fats” found in margarine spreads, nut pastes and avocado.
  4. Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding.
  5. Care for your food; prepare and store it safely.

NHMRC CEO Professor Warwick Anderson said that the evidence about “what is healthy to eat and what is not so healthy” has strengthened since the 2003 edition of the Dietary Guidelines.

“The evidence that links a healthy diet and reducing the risk of chronic health problems such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers is stronger,” Professor Anderson said.

“There is also stronger evidence about the kind of foods that can increase the risk of weight gain and health problems,” he added.

The draft Australian Dietary Guidelines were released for public consultation from 13 December 2011 until 29 February 2012, with over 200 submissions carefully considered. Public consultation on a draft appendix to the Guidelines was undertaken from 3 October 2012 to 2 November 2012.

This public consultation had indicated that more information was needed for making sustainable food choices. According to current Australian consumption data, young females need to eat more red meat, while adult males need to eat less red meat. All adults need to eat more vegetables, legumes, fruit, low-fat dairy and wholegrain cereals.

Based on public consultation, the revised Australian Dietary Guidelines also have sought to create a more balanced approach to vegetarian and vegan diets including improved information on the nutritional adequacy of vegetarian and vegan dietary patterns.

The revised Australian Dietary Guidelines were released today.