Data highlights concerning food purchasing trends. Complementary medicines can bridge gaps

Data released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed alarming trends in the nation’s food purchasing habits. 

According to the report, Australians are buying less food overall on average, but the majority of the declines were recorded in the categories of vegetables, fruit, and milk products.

The data highlights a concerning decrease in the consumption of essential food groups, with the greatest decrease observed in the vegetables, legumes, and beans category, dropping from 2.4 serves to 2.2 per day. Additionally, it showed Australians are increasingly turning to foods such as potato chips, chocolate, and energy drinks.

“When people do not meet daily recommendations for fruit and vegetables, but increase their consumption of ultra-processed foods which are known to be less micronutrient dense, it means some nutrient intakes are at risk. This is where complementary medicines can play an important role,” said John O’Doherty, CEO of Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA). 

“While vitamin and mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet, Australians can choose supplements as part of a strategy to maintain their intake of micronutrients and mitigate some of the risk of diets high in ultra-processed foods.”

Mr O’Doherty said complementary medicines, including vitamins, mineral and nutritional supplements, and herbal medicines, offer a gentle and low-risk approach to addressing nutrient deficiencies. 

“These products make a positive difference to the lives of Australians every day and play a crucial role in supplying essential nutrients that may be lacking in diets, ultimately contributing to overall health and preventing deficiencies that could potentially lead to health issues.”

“Australia is fortunate to have one of the world’s most rigorously regulated complementary medicine sectors, ensuring access to responsibly formulated, evidence-based, and high-quality products for all. Everyone can easily, readily, and proactively integrate complementary medicines into their healthcare, ultimately improving their management of health conditions and reducing expenditure on essential health services.”

O’Doherty adds that it’s crucial to note the released data only covers sales rather than consumption. CMA urges the Australian government to invest in research to obtain accurate data about Australians’ actual food intake. 

“This data could provide us with a better assessment of which nutritional supplements are likely to be of most potential benefit for people making unwise dietary choices,” said O’Doherty.

Complementary Medicines Australia remains committed to collaborating with the Australian Government and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to foster a thriving and responsible complementary medicines sector and promote preventative health initiatives.

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