Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Aussie Diets Fail The Test

Australian diets aren’t making the grade with CSIRO laying the blame on an addiction to junk food.

The CSIRO’s Healthy Diet Score Survey has given the country’s diet quality a rating of 61 on a 100-point scale when assessed against the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Intake of discretionary food, or junk food, was three times higher than the recommended daily limit.

Based on the survey results, Australians eat the equivalent of 32 kg of chocolate each year.

More than 40,000 people took part in the survey, which evaluated diet for variety, frequency and quantity of the essential food groups, as well as individual attributes such as age and gender.

According to Prof Manny Noakes, CSIRO Research Director for Nutrition and Health and co-author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, the results were concerning. “If we were handing out report cards for diet quality, Australia would only get a C,” she said.

“While many people scored highly in categories such as water intake and the variety of foods consumed, there is certainly lots of room for improvement in other areas.”

Discretionary foods and drinks are high in sugar, saturated fats and/or alcohol and low in essential nutrients. Of the survey responders, the average score received for the discretionary foods category was only 37/100.

“What we’re finding is people are having larger portions of junk food, more often,” Noakes said.

The CSIRO Healthy Diet Score is an online assessment that can be taken at http://tinyurl.com/o8234fp