Healthy Eating: Start 2015 Right

By Val Cocksedge

NCWQ Nutrition Adviser


Adult obesity levels in Queensland are the highest in Australia with the fifth Health of Queenslanders report indicating a third of adults are obese, another third overweight with a disturbing spike in chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Two thirds of adults have high cholesterol with many untreated and one third with high blood pressure. There is a need to balance physical activity with the quantity of nutritious foods that meet energy needs. The public generally needs to limit the intake of energy-rich, nutrient-poor foods that are high in saturated fat, added salt and sugars, to include a wide variety of vegetables (different types and colours) legumes, beans, fruit, grain (mainly wholegrain) or high cereal fibre varieties including breads, cereals, pasta, couscous, oats, quinoa, lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds, milk, yoghurt, cheese (mostly fat reduced). Reduced fat milks are not suitable for children under 2 years. Drink plenty of water. Deficiency in nutrients such as iodine, folate, iron, Vitamin D is also a concern for some.

Some employers are leading the way in promoting health and well-being among staff.

Only one third of Queensland fast-food and snack outlets display the kilojoule content of their foods. NSW, SA and the ACT have legislation requiring the larger “chain” stores to display kilojoule content on the menus.

The Australian Medical Association of Queensland wants a ban on fast food outlets opening with 1 kilometre of new schools and for subsidies for fruit and vegetables in high risk communities.

Research from Curtin University found almost four-fifths of FIFO workers are overweight or obese, with 42 cents in the dollar spent on food going to fast-food outlets and restaurants. The food chains, market research before opening up outlets with more chains such as Subway, Guzman, Miss India and Noodle box moving into some areas.

Jamie Oliver’s Good Food 10 week program has found that the participants’ daily vegetable consumption and confidence in cooking were sustained over 6 months after the program finished (in a Deakin University study). The Good Guys and the Queensland Government co-founded the Ministry of Food program.

A “life changing” free state government program PEACH, has seen many changes in lifestyle, food selection. The program is open to families

Some primary schools and secondary school Home Economics class rooms are showcasing healthy food options and using ingredients from their own gardens, encouraging students to learn new skills and try new foods laying down a pattern for life.

A sports loyalty program is one of a number of promotions pilloried by parents concerned how “junk food” firms are targeting children taking part in healthy activities e.g. netballers to conserve quantities of fizzy drinks high in sugar to earn a set of seven sports tops (Coca Cola) and a basketball (Powerade). Teenagers and children become brand ambassadors for the company sharing this via their social media profile.

Supermarkets are adding sushi bars and cafes to the usual bakery and deli counters. In 20 years, as the role of shopping centres come community hubs, there will be more foods from S.E.

Asia, Middle East reflecting our cultural diversity.

Thousands of tonnes of perfectly good food is thrown away each year because of appearance. It is a scandal considering there are 850 million people in the world, chronically undernourished.

A Queensland ‘not-for-profit’ outlet is doing its part to help overcome waste. Foodbank, set up in 1967 by the then Lord Mayor Clem Jones, operates from a large warehouse in Colmslie which is stacked with an astonishing range of perfectly good fruit and vegetables, tinned and packaged food, milk and dairy products that are superfluous to the needs of retailers and wholesalers. Floodbank distributes 10 million kilos of food each year to 300 charities feeding 100,000 a week. School breakfast program receive $70,000 of food. Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, I.G.A. donate tonnes of packaged and canned foods; farmers from the Lockyer Valley are generous as are Mackay banana growers.

On the superfood frontier are “Chia Pods”- a range of ready-to-eat meals containing chia, fruit, coconut milk plus varieties with muesli and oats. Chia provides soluble and non-soluble fibre, protein, and omega-3. It is promoted as just a tablespoon a day can make a difference to your health.

Growers have produced a way to encourage people to eat more sprouts. British experts spent 15 years perfecting kalettes by crossbreeding brussel sprouts with kale-the result a sprout with dark curly leaves with a milder sweeter taste. They can be boiled, steamed, roasted, stir-fried, grilled or even eaten raw.

Gina Rhinehart owns a 70% share in Hope Dairies. The partner is state owned China National Machinery Industry Corporation. The operation will export up to 30,000 tonnes of milk powder to China. Australia’s Freedom Foods Group has signed a memorandum of understanding with the chinese New Hope Group to develop a long term supply, with the establishment of the new large-scale farms in S.E. Australia. New Hope, is one of the largest suppliers of meat, eggs and dairy products in China, has $500 million to be used in the development of agriculture and food processing in Australia.

1989 saw the heart Foundation launch its Heart Tick Foundation, now 25 years later in 2014 the Heart Foundation is reviewing its formula in light of the government’s new health Star Rating-the more stars the better. Will Food Ratings help us make healthier choices?

The Health Star Rating (HSR) system was initiated by the Federal Government to rank food products on a scale of half a star to 5 stars-the more stars the better. The number of stars is determined by a formula that takes into account the type of the food, its calories, its ‘negative’ nutrients (saturated fats, sugars and salt) and the ‘positive’ nutrients (protein, fibre and concentrations of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts per 100g or 100ml) “The formula is best designed to compare foods in the same category” Catherine Saxelby says “so you can compare e,g, breakfast cereals, but it is not useful to compare the stars on a tub of yoghurt with a pack of nuts.”

The system was created for packaged foods. You won’t see it on items that would not be consumed on their own e.g. flour, vinegar, tea, coffee, alcohol.   The HSR scheme is currently voluntary so manufacturers can decide whether to adopt it or continue to use the voluntary Daily Intake Guide (%DI) graphic on packaging. They have until January to choose-the system will be reviewed in mid 2016.

Queensland Health is investigating the rise in gastro-intestinal illnesses across the state. About 11,350 food borne illnesses were confirmed in the 12 months food borne illnesses were confirmed in the 12 months of 2014. A lack of basic kitchen hygiene, poorly stored or prepared food are likely to be the cause. This year there have been reports of food poisoning from foods / ingredients supplied to restaurants and pre-packaged products. Council officers have fined owners for breaches of the Food Act.

The present recall of frozen berries, after reports of hepatitis A has been dealt with in my Consumer Affairs Report also. Hepatitis A is transmitted by the ‘faecal-oral’ route and experts believe the berries may have been contaminated by food handlers not washing hands or the use of contaminated water.

In the past 6 months, nearly 200 foods bound for Australian supermarkets contained contaminants that cause miscarriage, cholera, hepatitis A and other harmful effects. Cases of listeria threaten pregnant women and the elderly, shipments of prawns with a cholera-causing organism and Ecoli in shipments of cheese were already cleared for sale. Seafood, cheeses, nuts, dietary supplements, goji berries, coconut oil, satay sauce failed testing as they came ashore from July to December last year. Foods in the low-risk category were released for sale before test results were known – cheese with Ecoli, prawns containing banned antibiotics, vegetable with banned insecticides were on shelves before warning bells rang.

Most importers voluntarily hold food shipments until the test results are known (test results take 10 days) The amount of testing varies considerably to as low as 5% (details in Consumer Affairs Report)

The Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce has called for new labelling so consumers can see how much of the product is grown in Australia. He is asking for diagrammatic, simple, proportional and compulsory labelling in the form of pie charts so that consumers can easily determine how much is Australian grown.

Adviser Report NCWQ Nutrition Feb 2015

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