Poor diet is a leading contributor to chronic disease and premature death in Victoria.

Good nutrition is essential to maintain a healthy weight, mental and physical health, resistance to infection and to protect against chronic disease.

Poor diet increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, which are also associated with obesity.

Dietary recommendations

Many Victorians are not consuming enough of the foods and drinks they need to stay healthy and well.

Dietary recommendations for health focus on encouraging a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day. These recommendations are outlined in the 2013 Australian dietary guidelines.

Fruits and vegetables are important core foods that should form the foundation of a healthy diet.

These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. They are critical for the prevention of many chronic diseases.

It is important to reduce discretionary food and drinks – that is, 'junk food' that is outside the five food groups, including sugar-sweetened beverages.

Sugar-sweetened beverages in particular are associated with lower intakes of various nutrients, as well as an increased risk of weight gain and obesity, diabetes and tooth decay (National Health and Medical Research Council 2013).

The state of healthy eating in Victoria

The following data relates to measures based on nationally agreed standards, including:

  • the proportion of adults, adolescents and children who reported consuming the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables to meet the 2013 Australian dietary guidelines
  • the proportion of adults, adolescents and children who consume sugar-sweetened beverages daily.

Fruit and vegetable intake

Despite the well-known health benefits, fruit and vegetable intake for children and adults continues to remain low and falls short of recommendations.

In 2016, only 3.3 per cent of adults in Victoria met the recommended minimum daily serves for both vegetables and fruit (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).

When looking at fruit and vegetable intake separately, 4.8 per cent of adult Victorians met vegetable guidelines and 41.4 per cent met fruit guidelines.

Women were significantly more likely to meet both fruit and vegetable guidelines compared with men (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).

Amongst Victorian children, only one in ten are eating the minimum recommended daily serve of fruit and vegetables (Department of Education and Training 2017).

Sugar sweetened beverages 

Ten per cent of Victorian adults consume sugar-sweetened beverages daily (Department of Health and Human Services 2018). 

A significantly higher proportion of men (13.4 per cent) were daily consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages compared with women (6.7 per cent) (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).

Daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages also varied significantly between population subgroups, indicating differences across the population (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).

For children aged two to 17 years, one in 20 (5.1 per cent) consume sugar-sweetened drinks daily, and almost one-third (31.0 per cent) consume them one to three days per week (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018).

What the Victorian Government is doing

Victorian Government actions to address healthy eating include:

  • promoting the Healthy Choices guidelines to increase provision and promotion of healthy foods and drinks, and reduce unhealthy food and drinks in hospitals, health services, sport and recreation centres, parks and workplaces, supported by the Healthy Eating Advisory Service
  • the Achievement Program, which provides early childhood services, schools and workplaces with a whole-of-organisation framework to address health and wellbeing, including healthy eating.

Through VicHealth, the Victorian Government also funds programs and initiatives that contribute to obesity prevention. 

Find out more

For more information on healthy eating, please visit the department’s Healthy eating page.

References

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, National health survey: first results 2017–18, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

Department of Education and Training 2017, The State of Victoria’s children report 2016, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.

Department of Health and Human Services 2018, Victorian population health survey 2016, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.

National Health and Medical Research Council 2013, Australian dietary guidelines, National Health and Medical Research Council, Canberra.

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