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By Val Cocksedge

Most of the burden of disease due to poor nutrition in Australia is associated with excess intake of energy-dense and relatively nutrient-poor foods high in energy, saturated fat, added or refined sugars salt, and the inadequate intake of nutrient-dense foods.  Deficiency in nutrients such as iodine, folate, iron, Vitamin D is also a concern for some people.

Work-like pressures are blamed for bad food choices.  A new survey shows the increasing habit of eating out, the convenience of fast foods, buying take-away, ready to eat meals.

Almost a third of Queensland adults were measured as obese in 2011-2012.  The Queensland Government has launched a $7.5 million ad campaign using images of fat as it appears around vital organs.  Deep-fried and sugar laden foods being sold in the state’s public hospital canteens are on the “hit list” as the Newman government rolls out its new obesity program.

Queensland Health has a $45 million package of initiatives to help children and young teenagers improve their health and to stamp out chronic disease.  With more than one in four

Queensland children now overweight and obese, the Healthy Children program aims to improve children and young people’s food choices, focusing on positive healthy lifestyle choices.  The program includes thirteen initiatives across government and partnership with many external organisations to improve the nutrition and physical activity of children.  An example includes the Trim Kids project which aims to support families to adopt healthy lifestyles and to promote healthy weight through sustained change.

Dr. Jeanette Young, Chief Health Officer has a free help hotline for the obese and overweight.

Queensland’s Chief health Officer, Doctor Jeanette Young has called on parents to ban children from drinking soft drinks and fruit juice.  A 375ml. can of soft drink contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar.  Young children should be drinking only milk or water.

                The Good Start Program for Maori and Pacific Islander children employs seven part-time multicultural health workers to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity among the young people.

“Need for Feed” is a fun and interactive “healthy cooking and nutrition” program tailored to students in years 7-10 in some Queensland schools.  The program funded by Queensland health and managed by Diabetes Queensland, teaches students basic cooking skills and gives them confidence to prepare and eat a variety of nutritious foods at home.  This is the third year of the program and to date Diabetes Qld. Has run 44 programs across the state with plans for more.  Each program must be run outside of school hours for a total of 20 hours with 15-20 participants aiming to influence the long-term health benefits of young Queenslanders.

Educating families on improving their diet in the battle against obesity was the key plank to Jamie Oliver’s International Food Revolution Day on May 17 – aimed to highlight the importance of cooking wholesome healthy food from scratch.  Following the success of the 10 week course in Ipswich, Jamie Oliver is set to launch another of his Ministry of Food Cooking Schools in Toowoomba. Great outcomes have been seen participants knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards healthy cooking and eating.                                                                                                                                  

A survey of 500 Australian parents shows 92% of children are eating less than the recommended daily serves of 4-5 vegetables and 35% not eating the recommended 2 pieces of fruit.

The Brisbane Produce Markets “Healthy Lunchboxes” book developed with dietician and nutritionist Maree Ferguson is intended to kick start the healthy switch by offering ten simple lunch boxes that tick off the five food group.  “Healthy Lunchboxes” is available from local greengrocers in S.E. Queensland.  Visit www.brisbanemarkets.com.au

A glance into lunchboxes at 5 Queensland and day care centres revealed 38% of sandwiches had vegemite, jam or nut spreads, more than one third had junk food such as biscuits, potato chips, doughnuts or chocolate bars.  On average there are 11.1 gm. of sugar and 10.21 mg. of salt in the products – twice the daily recommended daily intake for children.

75% of salt comes from our processed foods – stock, canned soups, breads, tinned tomatoes, ready meals, some cereals, peanut butter, vegemite are on the list.  A 350 ml can of soft drink 40gm, 200 ml bottle of fruit juice 15gm.

In September, the Parenting, Eating and Activity for Child Health (PEACH) program was launch and to be run by the QUT.  The program is for families with an overweight or obese child aged 5-11. The government program estimated to cost $5 million, aims to address childhood obesity in Queensland.  Over 6 months, parents will be educated on how to overcome pitfalls such as contents of lunchboxes and take away meals.  The children will be in involved in physical activity.  Since 2002, a similar program has been successful in South Australia.

Eating a large breakfast and a smaller dinner may help weight loss according to recent Israeli study.

March 2014 Nutrition Report Revised

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