The latest results from the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey (AHS) revealed the alarmingly unhealthy diet of Australian teenagers. The statistics are a startling wake up call for Australia’s policy makers and all those involved in the health sector.
Dairy Australia convened a seminar and workshop to discuss and explore the AHS findings, and to explore some of the current issues and challenges associated with diet and nutrition for Australian teenagers. The event brought together a group of leaders in the areas of nutrition, academia, research, education and health policy. Dairy Australia is committed to an evidence-based approach to nutrition, exploring the impact of whole foods and food group as part of a balanced diet. Presentation topics included the discussion of dietary effects on eye health, mental health, bone health and cardio-metabolic health in teenagers.
The keynote speaker was Associate Professor Lynn Moore, Co-Director of the graduate programs in Nutrition and Metabolism at the University of Boston, Massachusetts, where she has been a nutritional epidemiologist and faculty member in the Department of Medicine for more than 20 years. Her graduate training was at the Boston University School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. Lynn Moore is an investigator with the renowned Framingham Heart Study and a number of other large-scale epidemiologic studies of children and adults.
She discussed the impact of cardio-metabolic health as central to managing childhood obesity – where a poor diet can promote early metabolic dysfunction. The consumption of various foods, including dairy foods, was a critical determinant of long term health. Adolescents have inadequate intakes of many nutrients, but those with a diet high in total dairy, fruits and vegetables have a healthier cardio-metabolic risk profile.
While she was in Australia, we interviewed her and asked her about some of her key learnings about teenagers diets and what she feels can make a difference:
What are the key health risks of an unbalanced diet during adolescence?
Having attended the ‘Tomorrow’s Adults’ seminar, what do you believe were some of the key points about the diets of Australian teenagers?
Is now the time to act on adolescent diets and what is the risk if we don’t?
Are the teens who consume the most dairy more or less at risk of gaining body weight and excess weight?
Is dairy linked to better or worse blood pressure in young people?
What can Australians learn from your experience in the US?
What are your thoughts on high-fat versus low-fat dairy?
If you could give Australian teenagers a message about their diet what would it be?