The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a report that indicates that Australia’s are eating too much of some foods and too little of others, with people consuming a higher percentage of their daily energy intake in the form of sugary or fatty foods.


“The report shows that many Australians are not striking a balance between foods high in fat and sugar and more nutritious choices,” said AIHW spokesperson Lisa McGlynn.


The report found that people were increasingly referencing ‘treat’ foods as a staple source of nutrients, with ‘treat’ foods, such as takeaway items, cirsps and confectionary, accounting for an increasingly large percentage of their daily energy intake. According to the report, treat foods now account for 36 per cent of daily energy intake for adults and 41 per cent for children.


Alarmingly, more than 9 in 10 people aged 16 and over don’t eat the recommended 5 serves of vegetables, adolescent girls don’t eat enough dairy foods or alternatives, and 25% of men and 10% of women aged 65 and over don’t eat enough protein foods.


However, it seems that poor dietary choices are caused increasingly by the unavailability of healthy alternatives.


“The cost of healthy food is increasing at a faster rate than the cost of less healthy food, particularly in remote areas, where a healthy basket of food can cost up to 30% more than in capital cities. This may influence some people to buy less healthy foods due to limited choice and high cost,” Ms McGlynn said.


The report also found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those from lower socioeconomic status areas are significantly more likely to have fewer serves of fruit and vegetables and be overweight or obese.


Full reports: Australia’s food & nutrition 2012 and Australia’s food & nutrition: in brief