All Australians love treat foods no matter where they live


In every State and Territory, Australians love their treat or discretionary food - food high in energy but low in nutritional value - according to a report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The results are from the Australian Health Survey showing different eating habits for each State and Territory. Louise Gates from the ABS says that while the report shows all Australians enjoy a treat there are interesting differences by state.

"The report tells us Australians obtain over a third (35 per cent) of their energy from discretionary foods.” said Ms Gates “Tasmanians and Northern Territorians obtained the highest proportion of energy from discretionary foods at 38 per cent while Canberrans had the lowest at 33 per cent.”

The choice of treat also differs with Northern Territorians' being soft drink with one in three (33 per cent) drinking it, the highest in the country. They were not as keen on confectionary (20 per cent) and snack food (13 per cent), being the least likely to consume these foods.

Tasmanians were the most fond of confectionary with over a third (37 per cent) consuming and snack foods were most popular in New South Wales where 16 per cent of people ate them. On the other hand, soft drink was least popular in Canberra where only 23 per cent of people reported drinking it.

For recommended intakes, Tasmanians had the highest proportion of people, nine per cent, meeting the recommended daily intake of vegetables compared with only five per cent in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Canberra. However, Tasmanians were least likely to meet the recommendations for fruit (48 per cent), while people from New South Wales and Canberra were the most likely (54 per cent).

“We also found 22 per cent of people in the Northern Territory ate fish making them the most likely state or territory to eat fish but least likely to eat fruit (53 per cent).” said Ms Gates

“Tasmanians on the other hand were least likely to eat fish (13 per cent), however they matched South Australians as the most likely to enjoy cheese (36 per cent compared to 32 per cent of all of Australians).

“Canberrans were most likely to enjoy a glass of wine (22 per cent) while in the Northern Territory, beer is the alcoholic drink of choice (21 per cent).

“Adults in Western Australia were most likely to have an alcoholic beverage (39 per cent) and Victorians and Tasmanians were least likely (30 per cent).”

The report also covers food avoidance with Canberrans most likely to avoid food due to allergy or intolerance (21 per cent) and Queenslanders least likely to avoid particular foods for cultural, religious or ethical reasons (four per cent).

“The report also contains new data on food security with rates similar for all states and territories.” said Ms Gates.

“Nationally, four per cent of people lived in a household that, in the previous 12 months, had run out of food and could not afford to buy more, and 1.5 per cent of all Australians were in a household where someone went without food when they couldn't afford to buy any more.”

ABS has compiled a full report for each State and Territory. Further information is available in Australian Health Survey: Nutrition - State and Territory results, 2011-12 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.009) available for free download from the ABS website

Media notes

  • Population is those aged 2 years and over.
  • References to alcoholic beverages are for adults aged 19 years and over.
  • Results based on intakes from a 24 hour recall about the day prior to interview.
  • Results based on face to face interviews of 12,153 people.
  • When reporting ABS data the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
  • Media requests and interviews - contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070.
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