New dietary regulations spark anger

By Mariam Digges

The Australian dietary guidelines have again been rewritten to better target the obesity problem – but they have angered food suppliers, with their strict new labeling and sugar restrictions.

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), poor nutrition is to blame for 56% of all deaths in Australia. Obesity alone is estimated to cost the economy in excess of $58 billion per year, and many Australians are still not following recommended daily intakes of the major food groups, relying too heavily on high energy, low nutrition foods.

As it stands, roughly 60% of Australian adults and 25% of children are now overweight of obese. The latest Australian Dietary Guidelines, released this week by NHMRC, has used the latest scientific advice to outline what we should all be eating to maximise our health and wellbeing. The guidelines are aimed at helping reduce the risk of Australians developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

“The public needs to know this is the place to go for good, authoritative dietary advice,” says Associate Professor Heather Yeatman, who is also President of the Public Health Association Australia. 

“The challenge for many Australians is that there are so many myths, confusing pieces of advice and falsehoods perpetuated by so-called gurus. The work of the NHMRC is strongly evidence-based and can be relied on by health, medical and education professionals and everyone in the community.”

“The PHAA is pleased that the guidelines focus on the types of food to eat for health rather than specific nutrients and the messages are very clear about avoiding added sugars.  In the new ADGs there is a clear distinction between added sugar (such as found in carbonated soft drink) and where sugars are eaten as part of the whole food such as an apple.”

The changes in wording from the guidelines of more than ten years ago will have abroad effect, felt widely throughout the food industry, with the introduction of the word “limit” now placing “added sugar” in the same category as “added salt” or “added alcohol.”

The Australian Food and Grocery Council was widely opposed to the new guidelines. 

Said Deputy chief executive Geoffrey Robinson of the strict new rules:

“Clearly our recommendations weren’t heard. We will be continually looking at evidence. In fact there’s been evidence even in the last couple of months indicating that sugar is no more than a carbohydrate.

“We hope that the dietary guidelines get reviewed more frequently than that. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that they should perhaps be reviewed every five years.”



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