Rapid and sustained improvements in food security, nutrition status, and other risk factors for chronic disease is possible, however, these approaches have not been widely translated into practice.
This project has produced effective, low-cost, translatable, scalable and sustained ways of improving food security and diet in an urban and regional Aboriginal community.
Improving Aboriginal food security and dietary intake: Approaches for remote and urban communitiesProject title
What is the issue?
Poor diet is a major contributor to the high levels of mortality and morbidity experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience significant diet-related health inequities, such as higher rates of overweight/obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and infant malnutrition. More than 80% of this excess burden of chronic disease is preventable, with the largest proportion of this attributable to poor diet.
Many complex factors influence food insecurity and nutrition in Aboriginal communities, including distance to healthy food outlets, transport limitations, the high cost of food, ability to cook healthy meals and the time taken to shop and cook healthy food. Previous research at the Prevention Centre has shown that these problems exist both in urban as well as remote communities.
While influences on Aboriginal diet are undoubtedly complex, previous research in remote areas has demonstrated that it is possible to achieve rapid, sustained improvements in objective measures of food security, dietary intake, nutrition status, and other risk factors for chronic disease. However, successful approaches have not been widely translated into practice, and to date, nutrition has not been a focus of policy to address Indigenous disadvantage.
How did the project address the issue?
This project was implemented in two phases. Phase one focused on improving food security and nutrition among Aboriginal communities in remote areas with a focus on Mai Wiru stores in communities on the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia. The second phase examined issues of food security and nutrition among urban Aboriginal communities, building on Prevention Centre research, and utilising the established research asset of SEARCH (the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health).
What were the outcomes?
- Identified barriers and potential areas for whole-of-system interventions to improve food security in urban Aboriginal communities
- Implemented and evaluated the impact of interventions to improve food security and dietary intake in five remote Aboriginal communities
- Developed a food security framework and strategic implementation plan to improve food security among urban and remote Aboriginal groups.
Relevance for practice
This project demonstrated achievable, effective, low-cost, translatable, scalable and sustained ways of improving food security and diet in Aboriginal communities.
News and media
As we face a “perfect storm” for food security, here are some solutionsNews Category: Media coverageDate
Murradambirra Dhangaang – a new planning tool to make food secureNews Category: Prevention Centre NewsDate
Remote Aboriginal communities improve their food security and dietNews Category: Prevention Centre NewsDate
Local organisations pledge to tackle urban Aboriginal food insecurityNews Category: Prevention Centre NewsDate
Lessons from the bush: how remote Aboriginal communities are improving nutritionNews Category: Prevention Centre NewsDate
Aboriginal communities find simple solutions to food insecurityNews Category: Prevention Centre NewsDate
Improving food security and nutrition in Aboriginal communitiesNews Category: Prevention Centre NewsDate
Meet Jacqueline DavisonNews Category: ProfilesDate
Meet Professor Amanda LeeNews Category: ProfilesDate
Summary Results Brief
- Cost and affordability of healthy, sustainable and equitable diets in the Torres Strait Islands | December 2020
- Sherriff S, Baur, L, Lambert M, Dickson M, Eades S, Muthayya S. Aboriginal childhood overweight and obesity: the need for Aboriginal designed and led initiatives. Public Health Res Pract. 2019;29(4):e2941925.
- Lee A, Ride K. Review of nutrition among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. 2018;18(1).
- Jacqueline Davison. Prevention through Collaboration: Using systems mapping to inform community-led solutions to food insecurity. Public Health Association of Australia’s Preventive Health Conference 2020. 19 May 2020
- Muthayya S and Davison J. A systems approach to improving food security among urban Aboriginal communities. Prevention Centre Investigator Forum, March 2020.
- Muthayya S and Davison J. A systems approach to improving food security among urban Aboriginal communities. World Congress of Public Health Nutrition (from 30 April 2020).
- Simone Sherriff presented the project, as part of her Poche Indigenous Leadership Fellowship, to Professor Sir Michael Marmot and Dr Ian Henderson, Director Menzies Australia Institute at King’s College, London, UK. 17 May 2019.
- Professor Sumithra Muthayya, presented the project at the SEARCH Investigators Forum, included all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services CEOs participating in the food security work.14 May 2019.