Saturday, July 05, 2003

PM - New blueprint for healthy eating
ABC Radio

"MARK COLVIN: For something so basic to our lives, the whole question of food and diet is becoming increasingly baffling for modern Australians. Today a peak health body tries to simplify it for us with a new blueprint for healthy eating. It's the first update of official dietary guidelines in a decade.

The National Health and Medical Research Council, which prepared the guidelines, says that for babies, breast is best for the first six months of a child's life. And the problem of obesity, even in children, has led it to call for low-fat dairy products, for everyone, including children as young as two.

Annie White reports.

ANNIE WHITE: First there was the pyramid, then the plate, and now a jigsaw puzzle metaphor to explain what the country's leading health and nutrition experts believe we should be eating. The puzzle is made up of guidelines for things like salt, fat and sugar intake.

But to start at the beginning, the NHMRC is now recommending breast milk be the only food for the fist six months of life.

Nutritionist and Chair of the working party which devised the guidelines, Dr Katrine Baghurst.

KATRINE BAGHURST: It's the same with all the guidelines, they are public health guidelines, but then it's up to the individual to work out how they can best achieve those or what they can do. So we do say, if you can't manage it, then for as long and exclusively as you can, is better than not attempting it at all.

ANNIE WHITE: Having knocked back a national paid maternity leave scheme, the Government still supports mothers breast feeding for as much of the first 6 months as they can manage.

Health Minister, Kay Patterson.

KAY PATTERSON: I think what we've got is the very best that one can do and it is difficult if somebody is working, but people sometimes manage expression of milk, they also....I think it's important that they don't feel guilty. But what these guidelines are doing is saying what is really the absolute best practice...."

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