Good nutrition is fundamental to good health. Eating a variety of everyday foods gives the nutrients needed to maintain health, feel good and have energy.
Poor access to nutritious, safe and affordable food is an issue in Tasmania. Poor nutrition is a risk for many illnesses yet only a minority of Tasmanian adults eat the recommended fruit and vegetable intake.
In Tasmania, two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, increasing their risk of many health problems.
Breastfed babies are less likely to experience a range of unhealthy conditions. However, only 40 per cent of Tasmanian babies are exclusively breastfed at four months of age.Food safety is another issue that can cause disease. Outbreaks of some food-borne illness have increased over the past three decades.
Food security is the ability to acquire food that is sufficient, reliable, nutritious, safe, acceptable and sustainable. People are food insecure when they have reduced disposable income, have less access to healthy food, or have transport difficulties in getting to shops.
Six per cent of Tasmanian households experience food insecurity. These people are at greater risk of periods of hunger; difficulties with learning and behaviour; diet related chronic conditions; malnutrition; and psychological distress.
The evidence shows us that improving nutrition for the whole community is more effective than working only with individuals at high risk of preventable disease and food-borne illness. Good nutrition in the early years, such as during pregnancy and infancy, results in a lower risk of chronic conditions in later life.
While overweight and obesity are significant health problems, most of the solutions lie outside the health system. They include policy interventions, supportive environments, community action, developing personal skills and reorienting our health systems.