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Health guidelines tell us what we already know: so why aren’t we eating how we should?

New guidelines show Australians should be eating less carbohydrates, sugars and fats and more vegetables- but not potato.

The National Health and Medical Research Council’s draft advice on healthy eating has been released and it shows Australians need to be eating more nutritious food to reverse current obesity trends and lifestyle diseases including Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.

Warwick Anderson, chief executive of the National Health and Medical Research said extensive research shows what many people already know: you are what you eat.

“[The findings] are based on evidence that has undergone extensive and rigorous review by some of Australia’s leading health experts,” he said.

“Our expert committee analysed more than 55,000 papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature to develop the guidelines.

“The complete review process was deliberately long and broad in scope, and I am confident that this has resulted in the Australian Dietary Guidelines being fully supported by the best available evidence.”

“The modelling work that underpins the draft guidelines is more comprehensive than any we’re aware of that has occurred in Australia or overseas.

“We have worked hard to base these draft guidelines on the best and most available science.”

“Our aim now is to make these guidelines clear and relevant to ensure our dietary messages are put into practice.”

Based on the research the Council suggests guidelines should include encouraging people to eat more nutritious food and commit to regular exercise.

The information itself is nothing knew, but the research has found even more evidence exists showing how important a healthy lifestyle is.

Most Australians need to increase their intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grain cereal foods, and reduced fat milk products.

Men are being advised to reduce red meat consumption, while women are being told they may not be eating enough.

The increase in availability of high energy foods and drinks containing little nutrients and unhealthy levels of fat, salt and added sugar has contributed greatly to the obesity crisis and people should avoid such products.

Sugar-sweetened drinks are one of the worst offenders, as many don’t realise how detrimental liquids can be to their health.

Anderson told ABC News Radio this morning people should be consuming “more of the things we know we should eat,” and “less of the things in our hearts we know we should do less of.”

He said the guidelines should be carefully considered by the general public and consumers, but also by the manufacturers and dietary experts.

Obesity trends are on the rise, with one in four primary school children overweight or obese, and the report also suggests parents should be focused on the health and weight from the very beginning of their lives.

Health and nutrition have been at the forefront of government policies this year, and on Friday the Gillard government announced it would be introducing a simple front-of-pack nutrition scheme within a year, as well as warning for pregnant women on alcohol products.

There has also been calls from medical and health groups to have cartoons banned in advertising, advertising junk food on the internet stopped and a "fat tax" on unhealthy foods, similar to that unveiled in Denmark in October.

The Victorian Government is spending $40 million on its Ministry of Food Campaign to educate people about healthy eating and exercise, and experts say similar shemes will need to be rolled out nation-wide if consumers are really going to understand front-of-pack labelling.

Consultation on the draft Australian Dietary Guidelines, incorporating the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, is open from 13 December 2011 to 29 February 2012.

To provide feedback or for more information at www.eatforhealth.gov.au.

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