Action needed to better understand Australian diets

Aug 1 2019

  Dr Emma Beckett

Nutrition science offers huge untapped potential to boost the health and wealth of the nation. But what does the typical Australian diet look like? How can it be improved - from paddock to plate – to target health and wellbeing for all Australians, at all ages? And how can consumers make sense of the blizzard of unreliable and conflicting nutrition advice?

These and other major questions are addressed in Nourishing Australia: a decadal plan for the science of nutrition, developed by the Australian Academy of Science.

The 10-year plan, which was launched Monday July 29 at Parliament House, outlines four essential areas where the science of nutrition will contribute to enhancing the health of Australians;

  1. social factors that determine dietary choices;
  2. nutrition mechanisms underpinning healthy and productive lives;
  3. precision and personalised nutrition that account for differences between people and;
  4. education and research training to ensure that Australians are empowered to make knowledgeable dietary choices.

The plan outlines how these four pillars will generate a greater understanding of why individuals make dietary choices and how we can develop and incorporate new knowledge of nutritional genomics and individualised nutrition therapies. It recognises that Australians are hungry for information about nutrition, foods and dietary patterns and the effects they have on the body. 

Nutrition Scientist, NHMRC Early Career Fellow and HMRI-affiliated researcher, Dr Emma Beckett, spoke at the launch about how nutrition science is often taken-for-granted. “As an early-career researcher it is motivating to see the era of opportunity that nutrition science is entering, and that our leading scientists in the Australian Academy of Science are engaging with and promoting nutrition as a science.”

“As a nutrition science communicator I am thrilled to see that this plan does not focus on science in isolation, or the science of nutrition purely as an academic endeavour. It has given equal importance to nutrition literacy and education, as the forth pillar underpinning societal determinants, mechanisms and precision nutrition, and to the idea of nutrition scientists uniting to provide a trusted voice in nutrition science communication.”

The Australian Academy of Science has developed a range of 10-year strategic plans for science disciplines for a range of diverse and exciting projects including: Women in STEM and Preparing for Australia’s Digital Future. Find out more on their website.