The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the findings of their latest Australian Health Survey, and the results reveal some interesting facts about the state of our nutrition habits as a nation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ABS found that teenagers and young adults are more likely to consume soft drinks, burgers and chips than any other age group in the country. In total, 51 per cent of teenage males (aged 14-18 years) and 44 per cent of young adult males (19-30 years) had consumed a soft drink the day before being surveyed. This is significantly higher than the 30 per cent score for the rest of the population.
According to ABS Director of Health Statistics Louise Gates, during a typical day one in four teenage Australian males will consume a burger, versus one in 14 in the rest of the population as a whole. One in five males in this group will also eat chips compared to one in seven across the rest of the population.
This increase in fast food was coupled with a lower intake of healthier food group, which may be concerning for parents of males and females in this age demographic.
"The report also recorded that rates of consumption of fruit and vegetables for teenagers and young adults were relatively low," Ms Gates said in a statement released May 9.
"Across these age groups, around 40 per cent of males and 50 per cent of females consumed fruit compared with 60 per cent for the whole population."
The Australian Health Survey revealed further insights about the rest of the Australian population, and the results may make you think twice about your own dietary habits. Based on participants' self-reported typical consumption patterns, the ABS found only 6.8 per cent of the total population met the recommended intake for vegetables.
In addition to this, 54 per cent of people met the recommendations for daily fruit intake based on the same set of data. The ABS also found that 35 per cent of total energy consumed came from 'discretionary foods', those types identified as having less nutritional value and more saturated fats, sugars, salt and/or alcohol.
What are the guidelines for a healthy diet?
Eat for Health, an initiative of the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Department of Health and Ageing, has set out recommended guidelines for every Australian to follow. Women in the 19-50 year old age group need five servings of vegetables and legumes/beans per day, and for men in the same age group this rises to six.
Men and women in both age groups are also recommended to have six servings of grain foods per day and two of fruit, with a balanced level of lean meats and dairy as well.
The human body needs a variety of minerals, vitamins and nutrients to function at its best. Without an adequate intake of each food group, the risk of a nutritional deficiency is increased and this can lead to a variety of health problems in the future such as obesity.
For example, a lack of vitamin A can lead to impaired vision, while insufficient vitamin D can affect the way your body absorbs calcium (an essential mineral for bone health).
Organising family health insurance provides financial support for any medical care you may need in the years to come, but you can take steps to improve your loved ones' health now.
With a balanced diet and a moderate level of exercise, you can support better heath and wellbeing and make the most of the time you have with your family.