Nutrition Experts Fight for Sixth Food Group in Australian Food Guidelines
16 August 2012
An ongoing debate between Australian Nutrition experts including the Heart Foundation and CSIRO's Peter Clifton, and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), has seen acclaimed Nutrition experts become adamant about the inclusion of a sixth food group in the Australian diet including polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, margarine and nuts. The current guideline, writes Sue Dunlevy in The Australian, recommends that Australians should "limit intake of foods and drinks containing saturated and trans fats and include small amount of foods that contain unsaturated fats." Nutrition experts are discrediting such recommendation due to the unrecognised importance of polyunsaturated fats, which lower the risk of heart disease and should be replacing saturated fats in recommended Australian diets and consumed more regularly.
Earlier in the year when the NHMRC released the draft guideline, the School of Molecular Bioscience's own Emeritus Professor Stewart Truswell, along with Peter Clifton, the Heart Foundation and the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) immediately pushed for changes to be made around the details of fat intake. However, the Council safeguarded their guideline, defending that it recommends 'that Australians eat between 14g and 28g of unsaturated spreads and oils, which is three times the amount specified in the existing guidelines.' Professor Peter Clifton refuted that the picture on the front page of the guideline does not even place good fats on the food plate of recommended food groups.
The point of contention between the two parties appears to be in the distinction between good and bad fats; the Heart Foundation's food supply manager Barbara Eden quoted a 2009 dietary survey in demonstrating that 14-16% of the Australian diet was made up of saturated fats when it should only be around 7%, while unsaturated fats should make up 8-10% and Australians were only consuming 4-5%. The nutrition experts are still currently pushing for the guideline to be changed.
Read more about the Australian Nutritionists' effort to ensure that good fats are appropriately recommended in the healthy Australian lifestyle here.