Government figures show children, teenagers, and adults are all guilty

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has recently released a report outlining the health and nutrition of average Australians. It found all age groups were guilty of turning to junk food for their energy intake and majority are not eating the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables.

Here’s what you need to know.

The findings

The AIHW report revealed a third of Australians’ energy intake comes from ‘discretionary foods’ which, according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, is classified as high energy foods “not necessary to provide the nutrients the body needs”.

The age group with the highest discretionary food consumption is teenagers, with 41 per cent of their energy intake coming from these foods.

The findings of the government report also mentioned the types of discretionary foods Australians are consuming change as we age. For instance, while children are eating cakes, muffins and ice-cream adults are consuming alcoholic drinks – so much so, alcohol formed one fifth of discretionary consumption for adults in the 51 – 70 age bracket.

Adults are also not eating enough vegetables as part of their daily diet, with only one in 10 adults successfully consuming the recommended serves. Even worse, 99 per cent of Australians aged two to 18 aren’t getting enough vegetables.

Yet, Australia diets are improving

Despite these figures, AIHW spokesperson Claire Sparke said Australians are “generally getting enough of the nutrients we need” and since the 1995 National Nutrition Survey, our diets have slightly improved.

“We’ve… seen a general decrease in the contribution of added sugars and fat to our energy intake, as well as a fall in how much discretionary food we’re eating,” she said.