Nutrition has not been given enough priority in national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy in recent years. This is the finding from a study published in the latest issue of Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
Led by Jennifer Browne from La Trobe University, the study examined Aboriginal-specific health policies and strategies developed between 2000 and 2012.
"Increased inclusion of nutrition in Aboriginal health policy was identified during the first half of this period, but less during the second where a much greater emphasis was placed on smoking," Ms Browne said.
"There is a life expectancy gap of 11.5 years for Aboriginal males and 9.7 years for Aboriginal females compared to non-Aboriginal Australians.
"Nutrition contributes to many indicators of wellbeing, including maternal health, birthweight, child development and oral health.
"It is an important determinant of the chronic diseases that reduce Aboriginal life expectancy. Improving nutrition is essential for promoting Aboriginal health, and this needs to be supported by policy at the national level."
- Jennifer Browne, Rick Hayes, Deborah Gleeson. Aboriginal health policy: is nutrition the ‘gap’ in ‘Closing the Gap’? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 2014; 38 (4): 362 DOI: 10.1111/1753-6405.12223
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