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Friday, December 8, 2023

Peak nutrition body calls for national strategic approach to healthy eating in aged care and across the board

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After being quizzed about the cost of basic groceries at his National Press Club address yesterday, Dietitians Australia says it is happy to advise Prime Minister Scott Morrison that a one-litre bottle of milk and a standard loaf of bread currently costs around $5.75.

This is on par, it says, with the average spend on food per resident in aged care, which at present is $6 per day.

CEO of Dietitians Australia, Robert Hunt, explains how this compares to other institutions.

“The average spend on prisoner’s meals in Australia is $10 per day which could explain why 50 per cent of Australians in residential aged care are malnourished,” he says.

For the broader population, the cost of fruit and vegetables in Australia continues to rise since the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s rising inequity in accessing nutritious food saw one in six adults experiencing food insecurity in 2021, affecting 1.2 million children.

Beyond the social justice of accessibility to nutrition, Hunt says the nation’s failure to take a strategic approach to nutrition could trigger major downstream affects in preventable chronic illness and further economic burden.

“Eating patterns are influenced by factors including affordability and how the food supply chain is designed which vary greatly across Australia leading to issues of food inequality,” he says.

“If it was easier for Australians to afford healthy foods and drinks consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines, the disease burden amongst the community would be majorly reduced.

“In 2015 it was estimated that unhealthy eating patterns cost the nation $1.4 billion in health spend – a figure that was attributed to insufficient vegetable intake.

“It’s been 30 years since our Government properly planned for our nation’s nutrition, and hearing that the Prime Minister doesn’t know the cost of staple food items may explain why.”

Hunt says Dieticians Australia extends an open offer to the Prime Minister to ‘come shopping with one of our dietitians and show how a family of four can eat cheaply and nutritiously for a week’.

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