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Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Adults

Wednesday November 12 2003

Ministry publishes Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Adults

Lives could be saved if New Zealanders followed the new guidelines for food and nutrition, says the Ministry of Health.

Ministry spokeswoman Dr Ruth Richards said that earlier this year it was estimated that 40 percent of all deaths (11,000 deaths per annum) were due to nutrition-related risk factors. These risk factors were high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and inadequate fruit and vegetable intake.

Dr Richards said that the potential benefits from modest improvements in diet were considerable.

The guidelines bring together the latest evidence and advice on food and nutrition, physical activity and healthy eating for adult New Zealanders. Practical advice is given for following the guidelines such as how to reduce fat intake and increase physical activity.

The guidelines focus on eating healthy foods such as:

1. Vegetables and fruits (at least five servings a day - three vegetables, two fruit)

2. Breads and cereals (at least six servings a day - choose wholemeal)

3. Milk and milk products (at least two servings a day - choose low fat)

4. Lean meat, eggs, and legumes (at least one serving a day)

Dr Richards said good nutrition, physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight were fundamental to reducing preventable deaths and chronic disease in New Zealand.

Following the guidelines will assist in preventing people from becoming overweight and obese which affect over half of adult New Zealanders.

Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Adults: A background paper is available on the Ministry of Health's website at

Questions and Answers

Why has the background paper Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Adults been developed? Health professionals report that they find the Ministry's background paper series of seven very useful. Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Adults: A background paper is the technical background paper that supports professionals to promote the Food and Nutrition Guideline statements.

Who will use the material in the background paper? The material will provide sound and practical advice on food and nutrition to health professionals including dietitians, nutritionists, teachers, practice nurses and health educators. It will be available on the Ministry website ( for individuals who are particularly interested in the evidence base of the Ministry's nutrition policy.

What consultation was undertaken to prepare the background paper? The Ministry publicly consulted on the discussion document from April to May 2002 and received 46 submissions - €“ 31 on behalf of organisations and 15 from individuals. The feedback included comments on specific details that should be included in the guideline statements, the structure of the paper and the level at which it should be pitched. Revisions have been made to address issues that were raised in the submissions, where appropriate.

What are the New Zealand Food and Nutrition Guideline statements?

1. Maintain a healthy body weight by eating well and by daily physical activity.*

2. Eat well by including a variety of nutritious foods from each of the four major food groups each day.

- · Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.

- · Eat plenty of breads and cereals, preferably wholegrain.

- · Have milk and milk products in your diet, preferably reduced or low-fat options.

- · Include lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or alternatives.

3. Prepare foods or choose pre-prepared foods, drinks and snacks:

- · with minimal added fat, especially saturated fat

- · that are low in salt; if using salt, choose iodised salt

- · with little added sugar; limit your intake of high-sugar foods.

4. Drink plenty of liquids each day, especially water.

5. If choosing to drink alcohol, limit your intake.

6. Purchase, prepare, cook and store food to ensure food safety.

* At least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most if not all days of the week and if possible add some vigorous exercise for extra health and fitness.

What is the next step in the provision of nutrition material? The background paper will be the basis of updating the accompanying health education pamphlet for the public.


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