Australians don’t buy enough fruit or vegetables but buy too much food that is high in salt, according to new food consumption data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Apparent Consumption of Selected Foodstuffs, Australia, 2018–19, represents sales of foods from supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience and speciality stores. These have been compared to recommendations in the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines.
ABS Director of Health, Caitlin Szigetvari, said: “The apparent daily consumption of fruit was below the recommended average two serves per day, at 1.5 serves per person. In comparison, vegetables were well below the recommended average five serves per day, at just 2.3 serves.
“The average daily amount of apparent sodium consumption was 3,140 milligrams per person. This is 1.6 times the recommended daily intake of 2,000 milligrams per person.”
High intakes of sodium can increase blood pressure, which can increase the risk of developing heart and kidney disease. Typically consumed as table salt, sodium is also found naturally in a variety of food products.
The largest contributors of sodium were from table salt, stocks and seasonings (23.1 per cent), followed by regular breads and bread rolls (8.5 per cent), processed meat (8.1 per cent), gravies and savoury sauces (7.5 per cent), and cheese (5.0 per cent).
Ms Szigetvari said: “Other major findings from the data indicate that buying habits reflect seasonal patterns. The average apparent consumption of all foods was higher during the summer (1,622 grams) than winter months (1,476 grams), with non-alcoholic beverages the highest in the summer months due to a peak in the purchase of soft drinks over the festive season.”
Overall, in 2018–19 an estimated 14.1 million tonnes of foods and non-alcoholic beverages were purchased, and the total dietary energy available from this food averaged 8,770 kJ per person per day. A high proportion of this energy is coming from less healthy food choices such as confectionary, biscuits, pastries, processed meat, sugary drinks and snack foods. These so-called discretionary foods made up 38.2 per cent of the total dietary energy available.