Poor diet has a more significant impact on health and wellbeing in Australia than smoking, according to a recent report from scientists at the University of Sydney and George Institute.
Researchers studying the effectiveness of the Australian Government's Food and Health Dialogue found the poor food environment in Australia encouraged unhealthy dietary habits between October 2009 and September 2013.
This timeframe encompasses the work of the Food and Health Dialogue, which was founded in mid-2009 to help improve the nutritional profile of foods and help educate consumers about dietary choices.
The research revealed that in the first four years of this program, specific goals have been set for just 11 out of a possible 124 action areas. Of these, not a single target has been delivered.
In fact, because of the lack of progress through the Dialogue, research leader Professor Bruce Neal explained unhealthy food choices are now a bigger problem than ever.
"Poor diet is now an even bigger cause of ill health for Australia than smoking," he said in a February 3 statement.
Mr Neal believes if the government is to get back on top of health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease, it needs to fully implement the Dialogues potential.
"The huge quantities of salt, sugar and fat added to the food supply by industry are now the main cause of ill health in the country, and the Dialogue is the only serious attempt to get on top of this," he said.
"Clearly this is a complex and ongoing process. Some companies have been making a real effort, but if you look at the big picture progress has been depressingly slow."
In particular, the government needs to focus on educating Australian residents about healthier food choices.
With a more extensive knowledge of the nutritional content in local foods, Australians can take control and make positive changes to their own dietary habits.
Additionally, individuals can enlist the services of a nutritionist or dietitian to ensure the food choices they make are well informed and healthy.
If you are interested in improving your diet and wellbeing, you may wish to consider private health cover. Some health funds provide a benefit for weight loss and offer preventative health programs as part of their product offering.
However, not all cover is created equal, so it is important to thoroughly compare health insurance funds to ensure you choose the policy that meets your needs.
For more information, contact the specialist health insurance brokers at HICA today.