The eating habits of Australian teenagers and young adults are of concern

12 May 2014

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Monday 12 May 2014 - The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) said that new Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data on the eating habits of teenagers and young adults is concerning given their low fruit and vegetable intake and high intake of foods such as soft drink, chips and burgers.

In releasing new results of the Australian Health Survey 2011-12, the ABS reported that around 40 per cent of males and 50 per cent of females between 14 and 30 years of age consumed fruit compared with 60 per cent for the whole population.

The ABS survey found that vegetable intake was low. While just under three quarters of teenagers and young adults consumed vegetables on the day before the survey interview, almost half of this consumption was potatoes (including chips) for both teenage males and females.

ASMI Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director, Steve Scarff said that the survey results suggest that teenagers and young adults are not consuming the recommended levels of two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day, placing them at risk of nutritional deficiency.2

"Essential nutrients are vital for normal growth and development and preventing disease. The eating habits revealed in the ABS survey suggest that teenagers and young adults are potentially setting themselves up for nutritional deficiencies and preventable diseases.
"These findings add to the existing body of knowledge about the diets of Australian teenagers. A 2009-10 study of secondary students funded by the state Cancer Councils, Cancer Council Australia and the National Heart Foundation of Australia found that only 14 per cent of secondary school students met the dietary recommendations for fruit and vegetables.3

"Ideally, Australians should be getting their essential nutrients from a healthy diet, but the reality painted by the ABS survey is that many people are not meeting the recommended daily nutrient requirements.

"Vitamins, minerals and supplements are no substitute for a balanced diet, however, they do have a legitimate place in preventing a nutritional deficiency when dietary intake is inadequate.

Consumers are encouraged to talk to a qualified healthcare professional who can provide advice on nutritional needs and whether a dietary supplement would be beneficial," said Mr Scarff.

About ASMI: The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak body representing sponsors of non-prescription medicines - over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines. Its members make up 85 per cent of the $4bn self care market. Membership totals 60 companies and ASMI members employ approximately 17,000 people with exports estimated at $600 million annually. ASMI's mission is to promote better health through responsible self care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost. ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy.

1.Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Health Survey, October 2011-12.,%20burgers%20and%20chips%20-%20the%20diet%20of%20our%20young%20males%20(Media%20Release)~1
2. NHMRC. Australian Dietary Guidelines. 2013.
3.National Secondary Students' Diet and Activity (NaSSDA) survey 2009-10: Jointly funded by the state Cancer Councils, Cancer Council Australia and the National Heart Foundation of Australia. Published in 2011.

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Marie Kelly-Davies
PR Manager, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)
M:0408256381 E: