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Focus on - The Australian dietary guidelines for children and adolescents


The role of schools

Schools have an important role in promoting healthy eating and physical activity to students and providing an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet can improve behaviours critical to educational success and performance at school. Effective school-based nutrition and health interventions can also help improve academic performance.

Tuckshops are an important part of the school environment; they can model healthy food and drink choices that are tasty, interesting and affordable, and provide the means to put into practice nutrition messages taught in the classroom.


The Australian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents (2003) were developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council as a useful tool to promote healthy eating patterns. They are based on the best scientific evidence available and current knowledge about what children need to grow and develop to their optimum potential. The guidelines are not listed in order of importance and should be considered together as a package rather than in isolation.

Encourage and support breastfeeding.

Children and adolescents need sufficient nutritious foods to grow and develop normally.

Growth should be checked regularly for young children.

Physical activity is important for all children and adolescents.

Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods.

Children and adolescents should be encouraged to:

  • eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruits

  • eat plenty of cereals, (including breads, rice, pasta and noodles), preferably wholegrain

  • include lean meat, fish, poultry and/or alternatives include milks, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives. Reduced fat milks are not suitable for young children under two years old, because of their energy needs, but reduced fat varieties should be encouraged for older children and adolescents

  • choose water as a drink.

And care should be taken to:

  • limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake. Low fat diets are not suitable for infants

  • choose foods low in salt

  • consume only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars.

Care for your child’s food: prepare and store it safely.

Source: Food for Health: Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia, National Health and Medical Research Council.