According to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) more than 50% of people in Australia are not meeting minimum recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption.
In 2001, one in two adults reported eating the recommended level of fruit per day and just one in three reported eating the recommended level of vegetables.
Diets high in vegetables, fruit and legumes are associated with substantially reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
Although there has been an increase in the proportion of Australians who usually consume at least four serves of vegetables per day, from 15% of men and 22% of women in 1995 to 27% of men and 34% of women in 2001, it's still not enough says report author Anne Marie Thow of the AIHW's Population Health Unit.
'Compounding the problem is the trend towards higher proportions of people being insufficiently active and increased levels of obesity,' she said.
The report, Towards national indicators for food and nutrition-an AIHW view, takes a detailed look at a variety of existing measures for and nutrition indicators in Australia and compares them with available data from countries with established indicators for monitoring food and nutrition.
Ms Thow said the report is particularly important because it brings together existing data from a variety of sources to highlight areas where more data is needed.
'In 2003 the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) issued updated dietary guidelines, and the AIHW wants to make sure that the data that is now being collected is relevant to those guidelines.
'Having relevant nutritional indicators means we can make sure we are collecting and reporting on the data we need in a consistent way and as part of an ongoing monitoring program, in this critical area of public health,' she said.
The report will contribute to the development of a national food and nutrition monitoring system in Australia, and will provide a status report on the nutrition of Australians relevant to the Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults.