Campus News

New national dietary guidelines urge Australians to cut sugar

Australians are being urged to cut down on sugary drinks, limit salt intake and eat a wider a variety of coloured vegetables in new national dietary guidelines.

UOW researchers were part of a nation-wide team that worked on the Australian Dietary Guidelines, which were released on Monday (18 February 2013).

The National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines are the most authoritative source of information on nutrition in Australia and used by health professionals, policy makers and educators.

Director of UOW’s Smart Foods Centre, Professor Linda Tapsell, who played a large role in developing the new guidelines, said the revised guidelines took around four years to complete and used new evidence-based methodologies, state of the art dietary modelling and extensive stakeholder and community consultation.

Professor Tapsell said she and UOW researchers, including Associate Professor Peter Williams, Associate Professor Karen Charlton, Dr Marijka Batterham and Dr Yasmine Probst were part of the nation-wide team that reviewed 55,000 pieces of scientific research to come up with the new guidelines, which urge Australians to cut back on energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods and drinks, such as sweetened soft drinks, lollies and many take-away foods, and eat more fruit and vegetables, low fat dairy, wholegrains and lean meat and fish.

The first revision in a decade, the new guidelines mark a change in emphasis on fat, with a move away from calls to cut intake and a distinction between foods containing unhealthy saturated fats, like butter and cream, and those containing beneficial polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil and avocados.

The advice on salt intake has also become more practical, focusing on food choice rather than how much of certain nutrients you should consume. Instead of “choose foods low in salt”, researchers are now urging people to limit their intake of foods containing added salt, reading labels to choose products that are lower in sodium and not adding salt in cooking or at the dinner table.

Researchers fear that if dietary changes are not made and current trends continue, by 2025, 83 per cent of men and 75 per cent of women over 20 in Australia will be overweight or obese.

Last reviewed: 10 June, 2014

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