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Aussies confused by fad diets: Stanton

AAP logoAAP 16/11/2016 Sarah Wiedersehn

Australians have lost their way when it comes to healthy eating, confused by all the fad diets out there, says nutritionist and dietitian Rosemary Stanton.

Dr Stanton says so much emphasis has been placed on nutrients, like protein and fats, that we have forgotten to eat our vegetables.

There has been the low-fat diet, the low-carb/high protein diet and now there is a push to eat more 'good' fats.

But this "nutrients centred approach" is a problem, says Dr Stanton.

"It's making people add specific nutrients to foods that are not particularly healthy and that then gives that food a health halo," she told AAP.

"I mean adding vitamins to the Cheezles will not make the Cheezles healthy."

Dr Stanton says many diet-related problems are ones of excess rather than nutrient deficiency.

"We need to look much more at whole diets."

Dr Stanton told the BBC's Future World-Chaning Ideas Summit in Sydney this week that growing and eating vegetables is the crucial key to tackling obesity in Australia.

With about two thirds of the Australian population overweight or obese, the "elephant in the room" is the amount of junk food Australians still eat, she says.

On average, 35 per cent of a person's daily calorie intake comes from junk food, for children it's more than 40 per cent.

"We have got to get back to eating real food again, and it has to start with children."

Dr Stanton says most families who eat poorly do so because their kids are fussy eaters and studies have shown that if children get involved in the growing and preparation of vegetables they start eating them.

This in return improves family harmony as an added bonus.

"Once the children start eating the vegetables then families start returning to the dinner table," said Dr Stanton.

"At the moment people won't eat at the dinner table because people argue because the kids won't eat their vegetables and everybody starts getting angry about it."

Dr Stanton, 73, says she won't retire until junk food advertising is stopped during children's TV viewing times.

She says people become obese as a result of a whole range of little things that all add up and that's the way the community needs to tackle it.

"We are not going to have this instant solution and I don't think any particular nutrient is going to cure cancer or stop us getting dementia or anything else."

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