Monday - October 16, 2017

Call for improved health literacy and self-care as new research finds up to seven million Australians are not actively managing their health

University of Canberra research, launched by the Federal Assistant Minister for Health, the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP, suggests pressing need for better online resources in health, food and nutrition for underserved communities

October 16, 2017, Canberra – Advanced, ‘real-time’, data-mining research, conducted by the University of Canberra and launched at a parliamentary event hosted by Bayer, suggests a pressing need for additional, easy-to-understand online resources in food, nutrition and health (1). The report found around seven million Australian adults are not actively managing their health through diet and exercise.1 Furthermore, a quarter of Australian adults are not confident they have enough information to manage their health concerns with only 62 percent scoring highly on a health-literacy test (2).

The report, released today by the Federal Assistant Minister for Health, the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP, is the first report to look at how Australians search for health and nutrition topics online. According to Minister Gillespie, research into how Australians explore food and health topics online can help in developing programs that lead to better health outcomes.

“The cost of healthcare in Australia has increased more than three-fold in the last 15 years. This is a major concern for the Australian Government and public,” said Minister Gillespie. “One way to reduce this burden of healthcare costs and reduce chronic illness is to encourage all Australians to proactively focus on better nutrition and health management.”

Study author, Dr Michael Jensen, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra, said, “while online interest in nutrition and health information is increasing, with searches for fruit, vegetables and nutrition growing steadily, many Australians still have poor health literacy. In addition, the biggest concern for Australians living in rural and remote areas is access to healthcare services. There is a real need and opportunity for improved online resources for these communities, to better allow them to manage their nutrition and health needs and connect them to healthcare services.”

To action the report findings, Bayer is announcing a partnership with Nutrition Australia to coincide with National Nutrition Week 2017 (October 15 -21) and World Food Day (October 16). Bayer is the principal sponsor for the ‘Try for 5’ program, aimed at increasing vegetable consumption. Amongst a range of activities, Nutrition Australia will launch the Try for 5 hub ( and develop further digital resources to increase health literacy and support women and children, as well as rural and remote communities.

Lucinda Hancock, CEO of Nutrition Australia VIC/SA/TAS stated, “nutrition is a key contributor to the health of all Australians. Part of that involves a balanced diet, including five serves of vegetables per day. We’re delighted to team with Bayer on the Try for 5 campaign. This partnership will help us develop important resources for Australians who need them most.”

Richard Dickmann, Head of Sustainability at Bayer, said, “we are excited to sponsor the Nutrition Australia Try for 5 program, which aligns with our global partnership with the United Nations “EveryWomen, Every Child” nutrition and health program. It adds to the range of shared value initiatives in the Agriculture and Health space, including the Heart of Australia Heart Truck, and various sustainable agriculture activities, which underline our long-term commitment to the Australian community.”


About the Food and Health Pathways Report

Bayer partnered with the University of Canberra to conduct a study into the self-care habits of Australians. Research was conducted in three phases. Phase one reviewed online-search behaviours in self-care across food, nutrition and health. Phase two evaluated attitudes and issues in underserved communities via online forums. Phase three established the attitudes and perceptions towards self-care among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adult Australians.
The research identified significant unmet needs in Australian self-care behaviour. This included a need to improve health literacy and self-care in underserved communities, such as Indigenous, regional, and rural Australians. Federal Assistant Minister for Health, the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP, will launch the Bayer commissioned report at the Food and Health Pathways event in Parliament House on October 16, 2017.

About the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra
The Institute is dedicated to promoting outstanding public-sector leadership, policy and delivery that really works for the benefit of the public. With this aim in mind the Institute seeks to bring together the best of theory and practice, to advance knowledge and improve governance practices.

About Nutrition Australia
Nutrition Australia is a non-government, non-profit, community-based organisation with offices throughout Australia. They are an independent member organisation that aims to promote the health and wellbeing of Australians. Nutrition Australia delivers nutrition education program, advisory and consultancy services that ‘inspire healthy eating’. Programs and services target all Australians across the population from young children, children, adolescents, adults and older adults.

About Bayer: Science For A Better Life
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of healthcare and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. It has operated in Australia since 1925 and has a long-term commitment to the health of Australians. Locally, Bayer currently employs almost 900 people across the country and is dedicated to servicing the needs of rural Australia and the local community. Bayer is deeply committed to research and development and has a strong tradition of innovation. The company’s focus on people, partnerships and innovation underpins all aspects of its operations, consistent with its mission, “Bayer: Science For A Better Life.”

For more information, please contact:
Richard Dickmann, Head of Public and Government Affairs, ANZ
Phone: +61 3 9248 6848
Mobile: +61 408 569 868

1. Jensen, M. Food and Health Pathways: Internet study on Discourse on Food, Nutrition and Health in Australia. 2017
2. Self Care in Australia: A person-centred approach to a sustainable primary healthcare system 2015. Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI), 2015.