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From the editor.

In keeping with what is emerging as a set of themes, the June issue of the Journal has a strong focus on food. The Editorial by our New Zealand colleagues Skeaff and Green asks 'Do we need more food fortification?'. They note early evidence that nutrient deficiencies may be reemerging in Australian and New Zealand populations and challenge readers to think again about the adequacy of a varied diet within our food supply. This is a timely discussion, given the current review of food fortification policy by the Food Regulation Standing Committee. A related topic receiving similar attention is food allergy, and our leading article by Bennett, from Food Science Australia, outlines in depth the science, risks to individuals, and the implications for the food industry.

With this backdrop, the article by Palmer and colleagues on the treatment and prevention of food allergies in breastfed infants provides important information for dietitians in practice. Using an evidence-based approach, they found that while most specialist paediatric dietitians in Australia refer to recommendations by expert committees, a systematic review shows a lack of high quality evidence to determine the extent of benefits from food avoidance strategies. The problem may be even more complex if we add to this Nowak's and colleagues' findings on nutrition knowledge and beliefs of 168 postpartum women from three maternity hospitals in Canberra and one in Brisbane. While the women expressed confidence in the area, they scored poorly on knowledge questions relating to requirements for core foods. Of note was the major source of nutrition information, given as reading (44%), compared to health professionals (4.2%). This harks back to a previous leading article by Truby on the challenges of communicating diet-health messages, in the December 2003 issue, and the referent paper by Timperio and colleagues, exploring the nature of miscommunication in this context.

One of the most consistent current public health messages is to eat more fruit and vegetables, but if we are to have evidence of the benefits, we need to, among other things, monitor changes in consumption patterns. Mackerras and colleagues provide us with an interesting analysis comparing fruit and vegetable intake data from two different population surveys. This article is well worth reading for the methodological questions raised and the implications for monitoring intake and evaluating achievement of targets. It also reminds us of the complexity of assessing dietary intake. Roberts and colleagues also examine National Nutrition Survey (NNS) data and methodological issues for their study assessing the population intakes of resistant starch. With starch a major source of energy, and emerging evidence of potential benefits from the resistant form, it is interesting to consider the authors' findings of around three to nine grams per day consumed by Australian adults, with potatoes, bananas and white bread found to contribute the most.

In the education section Hughes reviews position descriptions to examine employer expectations of core functions, credentials and competencies in community and public health nutrition. He found almost all entry-level positions required dietetic qualifications and discussed the implications for further training in public health. The continuing education section focuses on enteral and parenteral nutrition, with the very welcome involvement of this DAA Interest Group.

Letters to the Editor include an important letter on collaboration with New Zealand through the Journal, which indicates very real opportunities as also reflected in the Editorial. There are a number of issues raised that are worth discussing including the publication of abstracts from both dietetics conferences held in Australia and New Zealand. It is also good to see practitioners using this section for brief communications as in the other letter on haemochromatosis. I would like to encourage responses to our letters as well as brief communications such as these. The June issue also has a range of book reviews and a report on the Experimental Biology (EB) meeting in Washington this year. This is one of the largest scientific meetings in the USA, with a strong nutrition presence. There is plenty to keep this issue on the table for a long while.

Professor Linda Tapsell APD

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Publication:Nutrition & Dietetics: The Journal of the Dietitians Association of Australia
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Previous Article:Future events.
Next Article:Do we need more food fortification?

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