Food supplementation programs for women, infants and children are among the strategies that should be trialled to improve nutrition in Indigenous communities.
Food supplementation, indigenous communities, nutritious food
Food supplementation programs for women, infants and children are among the strategies that should be trialled to improve nutrition in Indigenous communities, according to an editorial published in the May 18 Indigenous Health issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
A study published in the same issue of the MJA
found Indigenous people living in remote communities tended to have diets high in energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods that were cheaper than more nutritious foods.
Julie Brimblecombe, of the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, and Prof Kerin O'Dea, of the Sansom Institute of Health at the University of South Australia, collected food and non-alcoholic beverage supply data from food outlets in a remote Aboriginal community in northern Australia during a three-month period in 2005.
The diet of the study population was found to be high in refined carbohydrates and low in fresh fruit and vegetables.
"Although foods such as meat, fruit and vegetables provide more nutrients per dollar spent, there is good evidence that, with sustained budgetary constraints, quality is compromised before quantity, with consumers maximising calories for dollars spent," Dr Brimblecombe said.
"This is consistent with the 'economics of food choice' theory, whereby people on low incomes maximise energy availability per dollar in their food purchasing patterns."
In the editorial on improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nutrition and health, Dr Amanda Lee and her co-authors called for a range of measures to be implemented to improve the diets of people in Indigenous communities
Economic measures which could be trialled before broader roll-out included food supplementation programs, free fruit and vegetables for remote schools and freight subsidies to get basic healthy foods into remote areas.
"Within a multistrategy approach, economic interventions tailored to community needs will assist low-income Indigenous Australians in remote communities to obtain the food they need for good health," Dr Lee said.