Nutritional impacts of a fruit and vegetable subsidy programme for disadvantaged Australian Aboriginal children

Black, Andrew P., Vally, Hassan, Morris, Peter, Daniel, Mark, Esterman, Adrian, Karschimkus, Connie S., and O'Dea, Kerin (2013) Nutritional impacts of a fruit and vegetable subsidy programme for disadvantaged Australian Aboriginal children. British Journal of Nutrition, 110 (12). pp. 2309-2317.

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Healthy food subsidy programmes have not been widely implemented in high-income countries apart from the USA and the UK. There is, however, interest being expressed in the potential of healthy food subsidies to complement nutrition promotion initiatives and reduce the social disparities in healthy eating. Herein, we describe the impact of a fruit and vegetable (F&V) subsidy programme on the nutritional status of a cohort of disadvantaged Aboriginal children living in rural Australia. A before-and-after study was used to assess the nutritional impact in 174 children whose families received weekly boxes of subsidised F& V organised through three Aboriginal medical services. The nutritional impact was assessed by comparing 24 h dietary recalls and plasma carotenoid and vitamin C levels at baseline and after 12 months. A general linear model was used to assess the changes in biomarker levels and dietary intake, controlled for age, sex, community and baseline levels. Baseline assessment in 149 children showed low F& V consumption. Significant increases (P<0.05) in beta-cryptoxanthin (28.9 nmol/l, 18 %), vitamin C (10.1 mu mol/l, 21 %) and lutein-zeaxanthin (39.3 nmol/l, 11 %) levels were observed at the 12-month follow-up in 115 children, although the self-reported F& V intake was unchanged. The improvements in the levels of biomarkers of F&V intake demonstrated in the present study are consistent with increased F& V intake. Such dietary improvements, if sustained, could reduce non-communicable disease rates. A controlled study of healthy food subsidies, together with an economic analysis, would facilitate a thorough assessment of the costs and benefits of subsidising healthy foods for disadvantaged Aboriginal Australians.

Item ID: 37494
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1475-2662
Keywords: fruit and vegetables, subsidy programmes, nutrition, Aboriginal children
Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: NHMRC PhD Scholarship ID no. 520681, NHMRC program grant no. 320860
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2015 07:41
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111701 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Determinants of Health @ 100%
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