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.

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 (2013), Infant Feeding Guidelines (2012) and Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including the Recommended Dietary Intakes (2006).

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

Review of the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines 

The Australian Government has announced that it will provide $2.5 million to the National Health and Medical Research Council to review the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines. 

This review will ensure the Guidelines remain a trusted resource by considering the best and most recent scientific evidence. 

NHMRC will soon begin the task of reviewing the Guidelines, with the first step being a scan of the latest nutrition science research and evidence from Australia and overseas. 

More information on the review can be found on our Australian Dietary Guidelines review page

Discretionary Foods and Drinks Review 

The Discretionary Foods and Drinks Review considered a substantial and comprehensive literature review on the current approaches used internationally for improving the definition and understanding of discretionary foods and drinks. A key issue highlighted during this work was the need for a review of the dietary guidelines.

In light of the developments of this project, the outcomes of this Review will be rolled into a broader review of the Australian Dietary Guidelines, and the Discretionary Foods and Drinks Review ceased. 

NHMRC wishes to acknowledge the investment of time and expertise provided to the Discretionary Foods Review by its Expert Working Group.

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 (NRVs 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

The NRVs will be reviewed in an ongoing manner as resources allow. NHMRC approved the revised NRV recommendations for fluoride on 21 November 2016 and sodium on 13 July 2017 under Section 14A of the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992. These were published in March 2017 and September 2017 respectively. Further information is available on the NRV website.

NHMRC is currently reviewing the evidence and updating the remaining fluoride and sodium NRVs not reviewed in 2016 and 2017, all iodine NRVs and all Adequate Intake NRVs for infants. These reviews will be undertaken using a phased approach over three years:

  • Phase One: sodium NRVs not included in the 2017 review and iodine NRVs (commencing in 2018)
  • Phase Two: fluoride NRVs not included in the 2016 review and all Adequate Intakes for infants (commencing in 2019).

The reviews will be overseen by a Steering Group Advisory Committee. Nutrient specific working groups have also been engaged to advise on the review of each nutrient.

Committees advising on the review of Nutrient Reference Values

NHMRC funding for nutrition research