The diets of most Australians have been criticized as sub-standard, with junk food now being considered "mainstream" by many people rather than an occasional treat, according to a scientific study released on Monday.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found Australian diets are "unflattering", scoring an average of just 61/100 according to its Healthy Diet Score.
The average Australian ate three times more junk food than was considered acceptable, consuming -- among other sugar-rich, nutrient-poor foods -- the equivalent of 32 kilograms of chocolate every year.
More than 40,000 Australians took part in the survey, which took into account peoples' diets based on variety, frequency, and quantity of essential food groups. Researchers then paired the findings with individual factors such as age and gender before releasing the results on Monday.
Professor Manny Noakes, the CSIRO's Research Director for Nutrition and Health said the results left a lot of "room for improvement."
"The scores were fairly unflattering across all respondents," Noakes said in a statement on Monday.
"If we were handing out report cards for diet quality -- Australia would only get a C."
"While many people scored highly in categories such as water intake and the variety of foods consumed, there is certainly lots of room for improvement in other areas."
Noakes said the convenience and wide availability of junk foods, which are foods high in fat, sugar and low in essential nutrients, was contributing to Australians' poor dietary habits.
"What we're finding is people are having larger portions of junk food, more often," Noakes said.
"This type of food is no longer just an indulgence, it has become mainstream and Australians are eating it each and every day. "
Noakes said that Australians could take steps to improve their diets, namely by preparing their own food and opting out of junk food.
"In order to improve your diet quality, people need to cut back on the consumption of junk food, and start to focus on eating smaller portions," he said.