This report describes a sample of 86,611 Australian adults who have visited the CSIRO Healthy Diet Score website (www.csirodietscore.com) from May 2015 to June 2016 and completed the survey once. Outliers were removed (n=784) based on extreme age (less than 18 and older than 100 years), Body Mass Index (less than 13 and greater than 97), height (less than 1m and greater than 3m), and weight (less than 13kg and greater than 250kg). The majority of the sample who have completed the survey are female (72.9%). There is a relatively even distribution of people in the 18-30 (25.5% of the total sample), 31-50 (37.6%), 51-70 (32.8%) year age groups, but only 4% of the sample is aged 71 years and older. Using self-reported height and weight, it is estimated that half the sample is overweight or obese (50.2%), and 47.3% are in the normal weight category. The survey is completed online, and therefore has attracted a national sample of participants. Almost one third of people who have completed the survey live in Victoria, and another 25% in New South Wales. Between 10-12% of the remaining participants reside in Queensland, Western Australia or South Australia. The key findings of the study as outlined by the authors are:
- Australia needs to take a reality check as with an average score of 59/100, the CSIRO Healthy Diet Score 2016 suggests we’re not healthy.
- Australia is fortunate to have one of the best health systems in the world but it won’t continue the eating habits are not improved. Discretionary foods appear to be the major diet downfall – being about 3 serves per day which exceeds recommendations.
- Key weaknesses are: alcohol, chocolate and confectionary, cakes and biscuits, and sugar sweetened beverages.
- None of Australians in the study score 100% for healthy eating. The closest that comes to meeting the Australian Dietary Guidelines is the fruit food group where 49% of respondents meet the recommended intake.
- More concerning is discretionary foods: this food group is superfluous to nutrition needs, although only 1% abstain – meaning 99% of Australians are eating junk food their bodies really don’t need.
There are noticeable differences in Diet Scores between genders, ages and occupations. For example:
- Women score the equivalent of a C, and men a D
- Construction workers eat 76% more discretionary foods than health industry workers
- Australians aged 31-50 score 4 points less than Australians aged 50+
- Obese Australian males have the lowest Diet Score of all respondents (52/100)
The study recommends improving the Diet Score to 70/100 by:
- Halving discretionary foods
- Doubling vegetables
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