Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Food Facts & Furphies

Food

More than 50% of Australians are taking some form of vitamins, minerals, complementary or herbal supplements yet the average Australian household spends just $13.70 per week on vegetables and $9.60 on fresh fruit.

By Clare Collins

New diet fads and furphies seem to appear every day. While some of these have a scientific basis, for others the science has changed in response to new discoveries or the science is just not there yet. This special issue of Australasian Science explores the latest evidence for food and nutrition.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

“I took this rare superfood that only grows on the southern slope of an exotic mountain for 2 weeks per year and must be hand-picked at dawn. It costs $40 per kilo.” When I hear stories like this I cringe and wish I could convince people to save their $40 and spend the money on more vegetables and fruits. The evidence is clear that eating more fruit and veg will lower your risk of weight gain and of developing common conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

Low fruit and vegetable intake is one of the top ten risk factors contributing to global mortality. About 1.7 million deaths worldwide are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption, as well as 14% of the deaths from gastrointestinal cancers, 11% of deaths from heart disease and about 9% of deaths from stroke. Yet we seem to love spending money on pills and potions that promise a quick fix, but for which there is almost no scientific proof they work. What can we do to change this?

The supplements and complementary medicines industry is estimated to be worth about $1.5 billion per year in Australia, with a growth of about 12% per year. More than 50% of Australians are taking some form of vitamins, minerals, complementary or herbal supplements. This is in stark contrast to 2009–10 data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Expenditure Survey, which...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.