Food guidelines are sets of rules designed to assist all Australians consume a diet that is conducive to a healthy life. However, given the cultural diversity of Australia, are our food guidelines culturally appropriate? The short answer is no. From the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001 Census we know that 23% of Australians are born overseas, 15% do not speak English at home and 8% practice a religion other than Christianity. The cultural diversity of Australia spans over 200 different cultural backgrounds, 170 languages and 100 different faiths.1 Each group has its own food patterns with extra depths of complexity provided by the migration experience itself, intermarriage, the availability and different status values of foods and the adoption of ‘Australian’ eating patterns. Given this diversity it is perhaps time to consider whether food guidelines are meeting the needs of the whole of the Australian population.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Danielle Gallegos