Characteristics of the community-level diet of Aboriginal people in remote northern Australia

Julie K. Brimblecombe, Megan M. Ferguson, Selma C. Liberato, Kerin O'Dea

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Objective: To describe the nutritional quality of community-level diets in remote northern Australian communities. Design, setting and participants: A multisite 12-month assessment (July 2010 to June 2011) of community-level diet in three remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, linking data from food outlets and food services to the Australian Food and Nutrient Database. Main outcome measures: Contribution of food groups to total food expenditure; macronutrient contribution to energy and nutrient density relative to requirements; and food sources of key nutrients. Results: One-quarter (24.8%; SD, 1.4%) of total food expenditure was on nonalcoholic beverages; 15.6% (SD, 1.2%) was on sugar-sweetened drinks. 2.2% (SD, 0.2%) was spent on fruit and 5.4% (SD, 0.4%) on vegetables. Sugars contributed 25.7%-34.3% of dietary energy, 71% of which was table sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages. Dietary protein contributed 12.5%-14.1% of energy, lower than the recommended 15%-25% optimum. Furthermore, white bread was a major source of energy and most nutrients in all three communities. Conclusion: Very poor dietary quality continues to be a characteristic of remote Aboriginal community nutrition profiles since the earliest studies almost three decades ago. Significant proportions of key nutrients are provided from poorquality nutrient-fortified processed foods. Further evidence regarding the impact of the cost of food on food purchasing in this context is urgently needed and should include cost-benefit analysis of improved dietary intake on health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-384
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

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