What’s in Australia’s New Dietary Guidelines?

February 28, 2013

Foods to eat less of, foods to eat more of, and why.

A decade since its last update, the Australian government just published 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines-and new Infant Feeding Guidelines available at the same link. The Guidelines are based on more than 55,000 new research publications that the Australian Government says significantly influence its recommendations for feeding and nourishing Australia. Cultural acceptability of foods and national consumption patterns were also a factor in the Guidelines.

Revisions to Australia’s Infant Feeding Guidelines primarily focus on the benefits of breastfeeding, but also include some nutritional updates. Parents and caregivers are strongly urged to introduce infants to solid foods around 6 months of age (for the sake of nutritional needs and reducing the risk of allergy) and an infant’s first foods should definitely include iron-rich foods, such as iron-fortified cereals, pureed meats, poulty, legumes, and tofu. Advice is provided on transitioning infants to solid foods and new fluids. By 12 months of age, infants should be consuming a variety of nutritious foods from all of Australia’s five food groups.

The 2013 Dietary Guidelines for the general population indicate that children and adults need to work on their consumption of the five food groups, as well. Below are the key foods that Australians need to eat more of, pulled straight from the Guidelines:

 

Vegetables and legumes/beans - a variety of different colored vegetables Fruits Whole grain (cereal) foods such as wholegrain breakfast cereals and wholemeal bread Milk, yogurt, cheese - preferably reduced-fat varieties (except for children under two years) Fish, seafood, poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans  Red meat (young women only)

 

And the foods Australians should eat less of:

 

Refined grain (cereal) foods, such as white bread and low-fiber cerealsHigh- and medium-fat milk, yogurt and cheese Red meats (adult males only)Energy-dense and/or nutrient-poor foods and drinks that are high in saturated fat, added sugars, added salt and/or alcohol, such as sugar sweetened drinks, fried foods, hot chips, many take-away foods, cakes and biscuits, chocolate and confectionery, and crisps.

 

These recommendations appear heavily influenced by those 55,000 new research publications. Connections are noted for the following foods and disease risk: more fruit and decreased risk of heart disease, more non-starchy vegetables and decreased risk of some cancers, and more sugar-sweetened drinks and risk of excessive weight gain. 

Changing cultural norms found their place in the Guidelines, too. Public consultation yielded a number of modern trends that the public wanted addressed in the new guidelines: the impact of food choices on the environment, vegetarian and vegan diets, and food-based approaches rather than macronutrient approaches to the diet.

Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Department of Health Aging jointly authored the two documents. Read both guidelines at the link above.

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