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Appendix to the Australian Dietary Guidelines: Dietary Guidelines through an environmental lens submission

ID: 
42
This submission reflects the views of
Organisation Name: 
South West Sydney and Sydney Local Health Districts
Please identify the best term to describe the Organisation: 
Government Department – State / Territory
Personal Details
General Comments
Comments: 

Feedback on the draft appendix to the Australian Dietary Guidelines: Dietary Guidelines through an environmental lens

 

The Health Promotion Service in South West Sydney and Sydney Local Health Districts welcomes the opportunity to comment on the proposed appendix to the Australian Dietary Guidelines. We have a number of points we wish to contribute:

 

  • Although the inclusion of a focus on environmental issues is welcomed, we consider that advice about environmental sustainability in relationship to food is too important an issue to be relegated to a mere appendix. It needs to be included in conjunction with nutritional advice throughout the guidelines.

 

  • The information provided in the appendix gives a good background to the issue and demonstrates that environmental concerns are closely linked to health. However it  provides only limited advice about WHAT health professionals can do and what practical advice can be given to the public on eating in both a  healthy and sustainable way

 

  • There is considerable evidence on the environmental impacts of dietary patterns and food systems, however the evidence in the appendix appears weak and confusing.  The NHMRC appears to have weighted the evidence using a framework suitable for clinical studies, not one suitable for assessing the environmental impacts of food systems. This needs to be readdressed. Where there are already clear strategies that benefit both nutritional quality and environmental sustainability, these need to be highlighted, for example purchasing local and seasonal foods.

 

  • Eating a diet high in plant-based foods and low in animal foods is implicit in the guidelines and in the pictorial Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. This is sound advice for good health AND for eating sustainably. However, this needs to be emphasised more explicitly in Guideline 2, which merely advises to eat a wide variety of foods from the 5 food groups.

 

 

  • Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and less processed food is also sound advice both for good health and for eating more sustainably.

 

  • The choice, use and waste of food products do not occur in a vacuum. The dietary guidelines provide an opportunity to educate the public not only about nutritional requirements, but also about how their behaviour around many aspects of the food system will affect the future stability, quality and affordability of healthy food.

 

  • The guidelines should be revisited as the evidence grows in this critical area, and provision needs to be made to review the evidence and the advice at regular intervals as current research develops in scope and sophistication.

 

  • The growing public interest in environmental issues, and in how individuals can take action in their daily lives to contribute to future sustainability, as evident from the submissions to the Guidelines, and through numerous community forums and groups, should not be ignored. This interest needs to be encouraged with provision of clear advice that features as an integral part of dietary guidance.

 

We hope these points can be incorporated into a revised version of the Dietary Guidelines.

 

Page reviewed: 4 February, 2013