Increased fibre intake could improve economy by $3.3 billion

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics and Nutrition Research Australia shows that if Australians’ increased their fibre intake it could improve the economy.

If every Australian adult adds two to three serves of high fibre grain food to their daily diet it could save the economy an estimated $3.3 billion a year from reduced healthcare costs and lost productivity.

Almost half of Australian adults are deliberately limiting their intake of grain foods and four out of five are not getting enough fibre to help reduce the risk of chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Cost burden of chronic disease

The research, commissioned by Kellogg Australia, shows that cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes currently cost the economy almost $22 billion a year in healthcare costs and lost productivity. Given the effectiveness of grain fibre in reducing the risk of these chronic diseases, the research looked into how increasing our grain fibre intake may help to reduce the burden.

Modelling by Deloitte Access Economics show that if every Australian adult adds just one serve of high fibre grain food each day, which contains four to five grams of grain fibre, it could save the economy $1.5 billion and help prevent 64,000 cases of cardiovascular disease and 126,000 cases of type 2 diabetes a year.

The Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie, welcomed these latest findings.

“These are Australia’s two most prevalent chronic diseases, and have a significant impact on Australia’s economy in direct healthcare expenditure and lost productivity. The research indicates that fibre from grains has the greatest potential to reduce the combined risk of developing these two diseases.

The benefits of adding fibre to the diet

“If all Australians added a small amount of extra grain fibre each day to their diet, we could significantly improve the health of hundreds of thousands of Australians, as well as the health of the economy.

“Adding more fibre to your diet is as simple as eating fruit, vegetables, cereals and wholegrains each day, as recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

“The health and wellbeing of our nation is our top priority and we are determined to ensure that the importance of fibre is not overlooked.”

Kellogg Australia and New Zealand Managing Director, Belinda Tumbers, said the research may indicate that Australians don’t realise the importance of fibre in their diet.

“This research demonstrates the importance of fibre, especially grain fibre, and the big impact it can have on both our health and the economy. Hopefully it will act as a reminder for people to eat more high fibre grain foods to help reduce their risk of chronic disease.”

The research examined data from the Australian Health Survey to determine the current fibre intakes of Australians. Grain fibre, because of its already proven potential to reduce risk, was then used to model increases in intakes to recommended levels.

Foods containing four to five grams of grain fibre include:

  • A bowl of high fibre cereal or porridge
  • 2 slices of wholemeal bread
  • ¼ cup of whole grains such as barley or corn

*Article updated on 2 June 2021

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