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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
 
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spacing1What do we know about nutrition among Indigenous people?

If a person eats healthy food they are more likely to be healthy [1]. A healthy diet includes:

Having access to healthy foods can be a challenge for some Indigenous people who live in remote locations. Food may have to be sent over long distances and is not always available and fresh foods may be expensive [1].

Poor nutrition is an important factor contributing to overweight and obesity, malnutrition, CVD, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay [1][2]. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines recommend that adults eat fruit and plenty of vegetables every day, selected from a wide variety of types and colours [3]. The guidelines also recommend including reduced fat varieties of milk, yoghurts and cheeses, and to limit the intake of foods and drinks containing added salt.

The 2012-13 AATSIHS found that less than one-half of Indigenous people reported eating the recommended amount of fruit every day (42%) and only one-in-twenty people (5%) ate the recommended amount of vegetables every day [4][5]. Women were more likely than men to have eaten an adequate amount of fruit (44% and 40% respectively) and vegetables (7% and 3% respectively) each day.

Levels of fruit and vegetable consumption were slightly different for Indigenous people living in remote and non-remote areas; less than half of Indigenous people living in remote areas (46%) consumed the recommended number of servings of fruit each day compared with two-in-five (41%) of people in non-remote areas. Conversely, Indigenous people living in non-remote areas were more likely than those in remote areas to consume adequate amounts of vegetables (5% compared with 3%) each day.

The AATSIHS 2012-2013 collected information on the fruit and vegetable consumption of children and found that three quarters (78%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 2-14 years were eating adequate amounts of fruit eat day, but only 16% were eating enough vegetables [1]. Similar proportions of girls and boys were meeting the guidelines for fruit intake (81% compared with 76%) and vegetable intake (14% compared with 17% respectively). The rates of fruit and vegetable intake were similar for children in remote and non-remote areas.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health measures survey (NATSIHMS) 2012-2013 collected information on three biomarkers (measurable indicators for biological state) of nutrition - vitamin D, anaemia and iodine [6]. It was found that:

References

  1. National Health and Medical Research Council (2000) Nutrition in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: an information paper. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council
  2. National Public Health Partnership (2001) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition Strategy and Action Plan 2000-2010 and first phase activities 2000-2003. Canberra: National Public Health Partnership
  3. National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines: providing the scientific evidence for healthier Australian diets. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014) Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey: first results, Australia, 2012-13: Table 2 [data cube]. Retrieved 26 March 2014 from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/subscriber.nsf/log?openagent&table%202%20selected%20health%20characteristics,%20by%20remoteness%20area%202012-13%20-%20australia.xls&4727.0.55.001&Data%20Cubes&9F3D9B7052520B1BCA257CA6000E31B5&0&2012-13&26.03.2014&Latest
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2006) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Australia, 2004-05. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014) Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey: biomedical results, 2012-13. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
 
Last updated: 17 June 2015
 
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