Australians are eating more ultra-processed foods, what can we do about it?

4 Jan 2024

Amid the rising cost of living, Australians are eating more ultra-processed foods than ever before. Emeritus Professor Amanda Lee looks at why and how we can turn it around.

The following excerpt is from ABC NewsChicken nuggets and chips

Ultra-processed foods like chicken nuggets, sweet breakfast cereals and fizzy drinks aren't entirely bad. 

They're often cheap and easy to prepare, and they keep for longer on the shelf.

They're also scientifically developed to be what the human brain considers tasty.

But they often contain high levels of fat, salt and sugar, meaning there are serious health risks that come with their long-term consumption.

Experts say Australians have now reached a point of dependence on ultra-processed foods, as cost-of-living pressures push healthier options out of reach for many.

Amanda Lee from the University of Queensland's School of Public Health says for an average Australian family of four, 61 per cent of the food budget goes towards unhealthy food and drinks.

"I just find that really revealing," Professor Lee says.

"Those who benefit from the current system, which is making people sick, is the junk food industry."

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