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New CSIRO tool aims to combat Australians’ over-indulgence in junk foods

New CSIRO tool aims to combat Australians’ over-indulgence in junk foods
April 7, 2021

To help Australians improve their diets, Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has developed a junk food analyser – a free online tool to help Australians understand their discretionary food consumption and explore strategies which may work for them to reduce their intake.

Low nutrient, high kilojoule food continues to be the top choice for Australians, with new research from CSIRO showing that nearly four out of five people are over-indulging in junk foods every day.The new findings come from the recent analysis of the CSIRO Healthy Diet Score survey.

CSIRO research scientist Dr Gilly Hendrie said new approaches were needed when it came to discretionary foods and Australians’ diets.

“Discretionary or junk foods are the number one issue affecting Australian diets today, with excessive consumption resulting in poor nutrition, high rates of obesity and an even higher risk of lifestyle diseases.

“Launching just in time for those who may have overindulged this Easter, the new Junk Food Analyser provides individuals with specific advice on which categories of discretionary foods they are consuming the most, with the interactive tool providing strategies and tips on where kilojoules can be reduced, which is essential for weight loss.”

On average, Australian adults are eating about twice as much as what is recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, with a whopping 5.1 servings of discretionary foods consumed each day, the equivalent to about 3000kJ, or 20 small solid chocolate Easter eggs daily.

The results also uncovered our top weaknesses, with alcohol taking out the top spot (21% of total discretionary food intake), followed by cakes and biscuits (19%), sugar sweetened beverages (12%) and savoury pies and pastries (9%).

A range of strategies have been modelled in the Junk Food Analyser to help users reduce kilojoules in an achievable way. 

Dr Hendrie added “while these types of foods and drinks are often high in sugar, kilojoules and fat, they do bring enjoyment, which means alternative methods must be explored in helping people enjoy their favourite treats in the context of a healthy diet.

“While the elimination strategy is common in diet programs and can reduce kilojoules the most, the interactive Junk Food Analyser lets users explore a combination of strategies to reduce discretionary food intake, without cutting their favourite foods altogether. That might include choosing to eliminate alcohol, take a break from cakes and biscuits and halve confectionery consumption.

“The Junk Food Analyser really does help Australians have their cake and eat it too.

“With the additional support of a balanced and evidence-based framework such as the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, Australians can feel assured that they are embarking on a health journey that fits into their lifestyle, without the sacrifice.”

To take the new Junk Food Analyser quiz, head to www.junkfoodanalyser.com

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