Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020) Diet, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 27 June 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Diet. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/diet
Diet. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 23 July 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/diet
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Diet [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020 [cited 2022 Jun. 27]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/diet
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2020, Diet, viewed 27 June 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/diet
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The food and beverages people consume (our diet) play an important role in their overall health and wellbeing. Food provides energy, nutrients and other components that, if consumed in insufficient or excess amounts, can result in ill health. A healthy diet helps to prevent and manage health risk factors such as overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, as well as associated chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer (NHMRC 2013). Diet-related chronic conditions are among the leading causes of death and disability in Australia.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide advice on healthy eating habits to promote overall health and wellbeing, reduce the risk of diet-related disease and protect against chronic conditions (NHMRC 2013). They recommend that Australians eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from the 5 food groups every day:
Discretionary foods are foods and drinks that aren’t needed for a healthy diet and don’t fit into the 5 food groups. They are high in energy, saturated fat, added sugars, added salt and/or alcohol and low in fibre and the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that their consumption should be limited.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines also provide advice on the number of serves of each food group that Australians should eat each day. Different amounts are recommended for people of different ages, sex, life stages, height and physical activity level.
See Australian Dietary Guidelines.
This page includes dietary information about the Australian population from 2 surveys:
There are strengths of, and limitations to, the information from each survey—while the 2011–12 information is more comprehensive, the 2017–18 information is more recent. Because of this, information from both surveys is included on this page. However, because of the different methods used in the surveys, the results from the 2 surveys should not be compared with each other.
Data from both 24-hour dietary recalls and short survey questions are also subject to various biases. For example, data collected from nutrition surveys are subject to potential under-reporting of food intake, due to:
In 2011–12, most Australians didn’t consume the recommended number of serves from the 5 food groups (ABS 2017; Table 1).
Vegetables and legumes/beans
Grain (cereal) foods
Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans
Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives
Source: ABS 2017.
In 2017–18, most Australians didn’t consume the recommended number of serves of vegetables (ABS 2018). The proportion not meeting the recommendation was similar for boys (95%) and girls (93%) aged 2–17, and higher for men (96%) than for women (89%).
However, the proportion of Australians consuming the recommended number of serves of fruit in 2017–18 (ABS 2018) was higher than the proportion meeting the recommendation for vegetables. The proportion not meeting the recommendation was higher for boys (30%) than for girls (24%) aged 2–17, and higher for men (53%) than for women (44%).
More than one-third (35%) of total energy consumed in 2011–12 was from discretionary foods (ABS 2014). The percentage of total energy consumed from discretionary foods was:
Sugar-sweetened drinks are a discretionary food. They include soft drink, cordials, sports drinks, and caffeinated energy drinks. In 2017–18:
Before 2011–12, the last national nutrition survey of children and adults was conducted in 1995. Under-reporting of food intake is estimated to have increased from 1995 to 2011–12, so comparisons between the 2 surveys are based on serves per 10,000 kilojoules rather than reported daily intake (ABS 2017).
Between 1995 and 2011–12, the estimated number of serves per 10,000 kilojoules consumed:
Burden of disease analysis estimates the contribution of various risk factors to disease burden. In 2015, 7.3% of the burden of disease was attributable to dietary risks (such as a diet low in wholegrains and fruit) (AIHW 2019a). Dietary risks were the third leading risk factor contributing to the burden of disease, after tobacco use and overweight and obesity.
More than 40% of cardiovascular disease burden and 34% of endocrine disease burden was attributable to dietary risks. See Burden of disease.
See Health risk factors among Indigenous Australians for information on diet among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
In 2017–18, after adjusting for age, Australians aged 18 and over living in Outer regional and remote areas (53%) were less likely to meet the fruit recommendation than those living in Major cities (48%) (Figure 1). The proportions not eating the vegetable recommendation were similar for adults living in Outer regional and remote areas (92%) and those living in Major cities (93%) (AIHW 2019b).
In 2017–18, after adjusting for age, Australians aged 18 and over living in Outer regional and remote areas were more likely to consume sugar-sweetened drinks daily (14%) than those living in Major cities (8.3%) (ABS 2019a).
See Rural and remote health.
In 2017–18, after adjusting for age, Australians aged 18 and over living in the lowest socioeconomic areas were less likely to meet the fruit and vegetable recommendations than those living in the highest socioeconomic areas, although the differences were not large:
Australian adults living in the lowest socioeconomic areas were 3 times as likely to drink sugar-sweetened drinks daily (15%) than those living in the highest socioeconomic areas (4.4%) in 2017–18, after adjusting for age (ABS 2019a).
This chart shows that the proportion of adults who did not meet the vegetable recommendation was similar across remoteness areas and socioeconomic areas, ranging from 91% to 94% in all remoteness areas included (Major cities, Inner regional and Outer regional) and from 92% to 94% in all socioeconomic areas.
Figure 1 data table (126KB XLSX)
For more information on diet, see:
Visit Food & nutrition for more on this topic.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2013. Australian Health Survey: users’ guide, 2011–13. ABS cat. no. 4363.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2014. Australian Health Survey: nutrition first results—foods and nutrients, 2011–12. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.007. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2017. Australian Health Survey: consumption of food groups from the Australian Dietary Guidelines, 2011–12. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.012. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2018. National Health Survey: first results, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2019a. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4324.0.55.001. Findings based on Detailed Microdata analysis. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2019b. National Health Survey: users’ guide, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4363.0. Canberra: ABS.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2019a. Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015. Cat. no. BOD 22. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2019b. Poor diet. Cat. no. PHE 249. Canberra: AIHW.
NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) 2013. Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: NHMRC.
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