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Is what we’re eating about to change?

The recent publication of the EAT Lancet report made headlines across the world including New Zealand. The report makes a series of recommendations based on the need to feed an ever-growing global population a healthy diet but in way that minimises damage to the planet.

Do we know if what New Zealander’s are eating is anyway similar to the recommendations in the report? We don’t actually. We don’t have any recent data which gives us a complete picture how Kiwi’s are fairing nutritionally. 

We do know that food and eating trends in New Zealand seem to mirror what’s happening in other western countries, despite us being a small, isolated island at the bottom of the earth. Veganism and low carbohydrate diets are popular at present, and indigenous foods are also experiencing a resurgence.

The Ministry of Health last surveyed Kiwi’s in 2009 about what they were eating – a whole decade ago. In a rare occurrence, recent dialogue amongst academics, public health practitioners, clinicians and the food industry all agree on one thing – that another national nutrition survey be completed as soon as possible. 

This survey would give us vital information on our ‘current state’ and inform areas for improvement and ultimately provide impetuous to update the Ministry of Health's recommendations on what we should eat.

Our current dietary guidelines differ quite significantly from the EAT Lancet report recommendations – and probably of most interest to New Zealand is the significantly smaller amounts of meat and dairy the report recommends.

Canada has recently released its new dietary guidelines which have an emphasis on consuming protein foods from plant-based as opposed to animal-based sources (meat and dairy products). The guidelines also include recommendations on minimising food wastage, something not seen in New Zealand’s current dietary guidelines. 

While the EAT Lancet report could be seen as one end of the spectrum, is there a mid-point that New Zealand’s dietary guidelines could shift towards? Well, currently it’s difficult to say, without a baseline reference.

A full copy of the EAT Lancet report can be found here.

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