4727.0.55.008 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Consumption of Food Groups from the Australian Dietary Guidelines, 2012-13  
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2 November 2016
Embargo: 11:30 am (Canberra Time)

Indigenous Australian diets fail to meet guidelines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders consume too little of the five major food groups and too much sugar and other discretionary foods, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

Like the rest of the population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ diets fail to meet the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines, which recommend minimum serves for vegetables, fruit, dairy products, lean meats and alternatives, and grain-based foods.

ABS Director of Health, Louise Gates said the latest results showed Aboriginal and Torres Strait adults consumed an average of 2.1 serves of vegetables per day, which is less than half of the 5-6 serves recommended by the Guidelines.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults consumed almost one serve (or 30 per cent) less vegetables than non-Indigenous people," said Ms Gates.

"They also consumed just one serve of fruit on average, half the recommended two serves per day."

In remote Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consumed less than one serve (0.9) of fruit (e.g. less than one medium sized apple) and less than one serve (0.9) of dairy products (e.g. less than one cup of milk) per day, which was lower than those living in urban areas (1.3 serves for both fruit and dairy products).

However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas consumed around half a serve more of grain foods and lean meats and alternatives than people living in urban areas.

"The data also shows that 41 per cent of the population’s total daily energy intake came from energy-dense, nutrient-poor ‘discretionary foods’, such as sweetened beverages, alcohol, cakes, confectionery and pastry products," said Ms Gates.

On average, this equates to over six serves of discretionary foods per day, triple the number of vegetable serves consumed. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting discretionary foods to occasional, small amounts.

More details are available in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Consumption of food groups from Australian Dietary Guidelines (cat. no. 4727.0.55.008), available for free download from the ABS website, https://www.abs.gov.au.

Media notes:

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