Australian Dietary Guidelines

Diet-related chronic conditions are a major cause of illness among the Australian population and a healthy, varied diet can help to prevent and alleviate these conditions. The Australian Dietary Guidelines are a set of recommendations of the types and amounts of foods that make up a healthy diet, developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council.1

The aim of the Australian Dietary Guidelines is to promote health and wellbeing amongst the population, and to reduce the risk of diet-related chronic diseases.

Development of the Australian Dietary Guidelines

Around 55,000 scientific publications about food and health were reviewed during the development of the Australian Dietary Guidelines – meaning recommendations are based on the best scientific evidence available, together with expert opinion. These recommendations play an important role in informing health policies and are designed to be used by health professionals. Scientific reviews have identified that dietary patterns that are aligned with the Guidelines are closely associated with reduced risk of diet-related chronic disease, therefore knowledge, promotion and advocacy of the Guidelines is pivotal.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines are intended for all healthy Australians, as well as those with common health conditions such as overweight. However it is important to note the Guidelines do  not apply to those with medical conditions requiring specialised dietary advice, or the frail or elderly. Additional advice is included for those with specific needs due to age or stage of life, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants, children and adolescents, or due to being part of a population group with special needs.

There are five key recommendations made by the Australian Dietary Guidelines:

Guideline 1 

To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs.

Guideline 2 

Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day.

Guideline 3

Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.

Guideline 4

Encourage and support breastfeeding.

Guideline 5

Care for your food; prepare and store it safely.

The latest set of Guidelines are based on foods and food groups – as opposed to nutrients – making it easier to follow the recommendations. There is also increasing evidence that whole foods play an important role in disease prevention. While there is likely to be variation in how the Guidelines are interpreted and implemented, this change from the previous set of Guidelines is a great step forward, given people eat foods rather than isolated nutrients.


1 National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Dietary Guidelines, Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2013.