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NHMRC

Nutrition

Consuming a sensible, balanced diet can help us to achieve optimal health throughout life. NHMRC has guidelines for healthy eating based on the best available scientific evidence including the Australian Dietary Guidelines, Infant Feeding Guidelines (2012) and Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including the Recommended Dietary Intakes (2006).

The NHMRC invested approximately $336 million into nutrition related research from 2002 to 2012.

Why nutrition is important

Eating a balanced diet is vital for good health and wellbeing. Food provides our bodies with the energy, protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals to live, grow and function properly. We need a wide variety of different foods to provide the right amounts of nutrients for good health. Enjoyment of a healthy diet can also be one of the great cultural pleasures of life. The foods and dietary patterns that promote good nutrition are outlined in the Infant Feeding Guidelines and Australian Dietary Guidelines. An unhealthy diet increases the risk of many diet-related diseases.

Nutrition risk factors

The major causes of death, illness and disability in which diet and nutrition play an important role include coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, atherosclerosis, obesity, some forms of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, dental caries, gall bladder disease, dementia and nutritional anaemias. The Infant Feeding Guidelines and Australian Dietary Guidelines assist us to eat a healthy diet and help minimise our risk of developing diet-related diseases.

Infant Feeding Guidelines

The Infant Feeding Guidelines provide health workers with the latest information on healthy feeding from birth to approximately 2 years of age. This includes advice on breastfeeding, preparing infant formula, and introducing solid foods. Common health related concerns and how to overcome feeding difficulties are included.

The Infant Feeding Guidelines are relevant to healthy, term infants of normal birth weight (>2500g).

Australian Dietary Guidelines

The Australian Dietary Guidelines use the best available scientific evidence to provide information on the types and amounts of foods, food groups and dietary patterns that aim to promote health and wellbeing, reduce the risk of diet-related conditions and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines are for use by health professionals, policy makers, educators, food manufacturers, food retailers and researchers and encourage healthy dietary patterns to promote and maintain the nutrition-related health and wellbeing of the Australian population

The content of the Australian Dietary Guidelines applies to all healthy Australians, as well as those with common diet-related risk factors such as being overweight. They do not apply to people who need special dietary advice for a medical condition, nor to the frail elderly.

A website on the Eat for Health Program is at www.eatforhealth.gov.au.

Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including the Recommended Dietary Intakes

The Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including the Recommended Dietary Intakes (2006) outline the intake levels of essential nutrients considered adequate to meet the nutritional needs of healthy people for prevention of nutrient deficiencies. The document is intended for use by health professionals to assess the likelihood of inadequate intake in individuals or groups of people.

A website on the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including the Recommended Dietary Intakes (2006) is at www.nrv.gov.au.

The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing is currently undertaking a review of the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including the Recommended Dietary Intakes (2006).

NHMRC funding for nutrition research

Page last updated on 19 May 2014