You are what you eat; but how do you know what you're eating?

18 August, 2011

Australians want solutions to help them make healthier choices on the foods they like to eat; 88% want healthier choices at burger and pizza chains, 91% at chicken chains and 90% at sandwich chains.

The Heart Foundation is holding a Parliamentary Breakfast Forum for Members of Parliament to highlight ways they can improve their own eating and support food policy reforms that help provide healthier foods and give Queenslanders the information they need to know about what they re eating.

Every day, 2.7 million Australians eat at fast food outlets and they are telling the Heart Foundation that they want nutritional information to help them make healthier choices.

Heart Foundation CEO Cameron Prout says, "We are not only confronted by many unhealthy meals when we eat out, but we often unwittingly choose unhealthy meals when trying to make a healthy choice. We don t know how many kilojoules are in a meal, how it has been cooked, what type of oil it has been cooked in or how much salt, saturated fat or fibre is in the meal. Often what may appear healthier is far from being a healthy choice."

"Without any nutritional information we do not know what we are eating," says Prout.

Queenslanders also want to see less exposure of unhealthy foods to children, with 84% of consumers saying children should be protected from the promotion and advertising of unhealthy foods.

A discussion paper on banning junk food advertising was released by the State Government in 2009 but no action has been taken by the state or federal governments.

"Self-regulation by industry of advertising food to children is not working. In the meantime, childhood obesity continues to rise and physical activity levels are declining, a recipe for heart disease for the next generation," says Prout.

The Heart Foundation is calling for the following food policy reforms:

  • Ban junk food advertising to children to protect children from the advertising and promotion of unhealthy food and drinks.
  • Mandatory menu labelling in fast food outlets menu boards giving consumers information on saturated fat, salt and energy content of the food.
  • Mandatory front of pack labelling on manufactured food packaging in supermarkets giving consumers an easy healthy rating system on the foods they buy.
  • Ensure the health of Queenslanders is at the front and centre of the Queensland and national food plans because we eat to live.
Source: Heart Foundation QLD