Data shows Aussies cutting back veggies not unhealthy snacks

12 Apr 2024

Australian Bureau of Statistics data: 

New ABS data published today shows Australians cut back on vegetables and fruit but snack foods continue to fill supermarket trolleys.          

Key findings include: 

  • Australians consumed less of all the major food groups in 2022-23, but vegetables saw the largest drop of 14 grams per person per day, followed by fruit (down 12 grams).  

  • Consumption of snack foods has grown by 10% per person between 2018-19 and 2022-23. 

  • Over five years, consumption of potato chips has gone up 16 per cent, chocolate up 10 per cent, and cereals and convenience meals up 9 per cent.    

  • Unhealthy (discretionary) foods contributed 38.6% of total dietary energy available, similar to 2021-22 (38.5%) and 2020-21 (38.6%) 

Quotes attributable to Jane Martin, Executive Manager, Food for Health Alliance: 

“This data adds to mounting evidence that Australians’ diets are worsening. This is deeply concerning, as we know that more than 9 in 10 Australians already do not consume enough vegetables and fruit to maintain good health.  

“Australians want to be healthy, but food manufacturers make this made harder by surrounding us with heavily promoted, readily accessible ultra-processed foods like chips, chocolate and snacks. It’s impossible to escape seeing unhealthy foods promoted over healthy food options in supermarket aisles and checkouts.  

Research shows that price discounts apply to around 40% of products in Australian supermarkets and are more commonly used to promote unhealthy foods, over than healthy products. 

“It is concerning to see further declines in sales of healthy foods; it is the opposite of what is required to reduce diet related diseases, which are common in Australia, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. 

“What's urgently needed is a suite of coordinated measures by Government to improve the food environment to support Australians to be healthy. This includes implementing higher standards to protect children from harmful unhealthy food marketing, and mandating and improving the Health Star Rating system to give people the information they need when shopping. 

“Without effective government action, targets set under the National Obesity Strategy are unlikely to be met – including reducing childhood obesity by 5% by 2030.”