NEW Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating are now open for public review.
It is the first updated version released by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) since the 2003 guidelines.
A review of evidence on pregnant and breastfeeding women, over 55,000 scientific journal articles, and national and international reports and modelling systems were analysed to come up with the amended guidelines, however much of the fundamental messages are consistent with previous guidelines.
The updated version focuses on whole food choice recommendations for a clearer, practical approach compared with the 2003 version which focused on how many nutrients should be consumed.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines give evidence supporting each recommendation, beginning with why eating a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups is more beneficial over focus on nutrient intake.
The document states that diet variety has the benefit of providing non-nutrient components like phytochemicals. Allowing nutrients into the body naturally from a variety of foods decreases risks of toxicity that can arise from taking nutrient supplements.
A wide variety of foods can also be beneficial because the relationship between food, nutrients and food components—like phytates—can influence absorption, metabolism and retention of nutrients.
The recommendations include information on diets for children and adolescents in five separate age categories as well as information for toddlers 13–23 months old, infants aged 7–12 months and guidelines for pregnant and lactating women.
Deputy Chair of the Dietary Guidelines Working Committee and Curtin University’s Colin Binns says good nutrition is vital in Australia at a time where diet related diseases like diabetes are emerging.
“After cessation of smoking, improved nutrition provides the best opportunities for cancer prevention, including reducing obesity, eating more vegetables and fruit, reducing alcohol and breastfeeding,” Prof Binns says.
“In Australia, most of the major causes of death and disability have some nutritional component in their cause, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis.”
The document highlights the lack of adherence to dietary recommendations in Australia stating that energy-dense, nutrient-poor ‘extra foods’ contributed to 41 per cent of the total daily energy intake of 2–18 year olds, and 35 per cent of adults’ daily intake in the 1995 National Nutrition Survey.
Advice on how to change dietary habits and increase knowledge and action is also provided.
Further details on the science behind the recommendations can be found in the Australia Dietary Guidelines.
Closing date for public submissions ends 29th February 2012.