Study shows health benefits of following Australian dietary guidelines

Media release
22 November 2016

For the first time researchers have shown that meeting current Australian Dietary Guidelines is linked to 30 per cent lower risk of obesity in both men and women and 40 per cent lower risk of hypertension in men.

The study, "Diet quality is associated with obesity and hypertension in Australian adults: a cross sectional study" was published recently in BMC Public Health and analysed the diets of 2346 men and 2562 women from the most recent nationally representative Australian data.

Dr Katherine Livingstone from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University said that this is some of the strongest evidence to date to show that Australians should follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG).

"A lot of research has gone into the design of the ADG and now our results have shown that following these guidelines means that people are more likely to be a healthier weight and have healthier blood pressure.

"Our study looked at the dietary guideline index (DGI), which measures whether people meet recommendations for the amount of healthy AND unhealthy foods eaten, so fruit and vegetables as well as snack foods like chips and chocolate. We also assessed their recommended food score (RFS) which is a score based on people only meeting recommendations for healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean meats (and alternatives), and low-fat dairy.

"What we found is that meeting healthy food recommendations alone is not enough to lower obesity risk. Instead, meeting recommendations for both healthy and unhealthy food intake is important for lowering obesity risk. So eating your greens and limiting those blocks of chocolate will be better than just focusing on your greens!" she said.

Dr Livingstone said they also wanted to understand whether diet could lower the risk of hypertension even when people were overweight or obese.

"Our results are important as we showed that meeting more dietary recommendations may have an important role in lowering risk of hypertension in men who are overweight or obese. So if men are struggling with their weight and find it difficult to lose weight, managing their diet will still be an effective strategy to lower risk of high blood pressure."

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Media release Faculty of Health Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN)

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