Chronic disease in Australia
Chronic diseases are a heavy burden on Australia’s economy and well-being. Obesity, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer are the leading causes of preventable death. Obesity alone cost Australian society and governments over $58 billion in 20081.
Australia needs practical, effective diet and lifestyle solutions that can help reduce the burden of these chronic diseases. Increased wholegrain intake has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and even help with weight control.
CSIRO scientists have seen the potential to enhance the nutritional value of wholegrains, like barley, to help combat these health problems.
CSIRO has long been interested in barley as a grain with human health benefits. One particular barley grain emerged from research as having higher fibre content and enhanced nutritional benefits compared with regular barley. A program of conventional plant breeding led to the development of BARLEYmaxTM, a natural, high fibre wholegrain with high levels of resistant starch.
An extensive program of experimental studies, including a number of human trials, showed that a range of foods produced with BARLEYmaxTM as their key ingredient had a low glycemic index and also produced positive changes in a range of biomarkers of bowel health.
Improved health and wellbeing of Australians, lowering rates of Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer
The potential value of improved health outcomes for Australians from widespread, regular consumption of BARLEYmaxTM is estimated to be worth approximately $305 million2 per year due to its potential for lowering rates of Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.
In addition, the total savings in health system costs from increased dietary fibre intake are forecast at up to $17 million per year. BARLEYmaxTM also benefits grain growers, through additional earnings from guaranteed prices for barley and diversification of farm business models.