A Bendigo dietitian says it is difficult to predict the full extent years of bad nutrition and expanding waistlines will have on children after they grow to adulthood.
Bendigo Health dietitian Bree Forrester says unfortunately many of those already feeling the effects of bad nutrition in town are children and teenagers, though problems with weight and associated ill health are seen across all age groups.
New Australian Institute of Health and Welfare research shows Australian children and teenagers are getting as much as 41 per cent of their energy intake from foods laden with added sugar, saturated fats and sodium.
That drops by roughly five per cent in adult years but never comes close to the 29 per cent toddlers’ diets achieve.
While children’s diets might be bad, certain young people are showing up adults. Toddlers are the only people meeting dairy recommendations, while only children aged two to eight-years-of-age are eating enough fruit.
Females aged 71 and over are keeping up with males aged four to 11-years-of-age as well as females nine to 11-years-of age, but only when it comes to eating grains.
And before you lecture your children about eating their vegetables, add some more carrots to your own meal. No age group, child or adult, is getting the right amount of veggies.
“Look, unfortunately, what we find is that while most people have heard of the five food groups they very rarely know how much of that food they should aim to consume,” Ms Forrester said.
While school-aged children are being taught about the five food groups and correct portion sizes, Ms Forrester said many adults have either forgotten or not taken up healthy eating messages.
Others are receiving mixed or incorrect messages because of the amount of advice circulation through the media, family and friendship circles, she said.
The AIHW report did find some bright spots, including a steady decrease in the amount of added sugars and fat in energy intakes since 1995, as well as a decrease in the amount of discretionary food being eaten.
Ms Forrester said those hoping to learn more about healthy eating practices could seek out an accredited practice dietitian or look up the Australian government’s healthy eating website at www.eatforhealth.gov.au
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