Health outcomes of a subsidised fruit and vegetable program for Aboriginal children in northern New South Wales

Andrew Black, Hassan Vally, Peter Morris, Mark DANIEL, Adrian Esterman, Fiona Smith, Kerin O'Dea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To evaluate the impact of a fruit and vegetable subsidy program on short-term health outcomes of disadvantaged Aboriginal children.

Design, setting and participants: A before-and-after study involving clinical assessments, health record audits and blood testing of all children aged 0–17 years (n = 167) from 55 participating families at baseline and after 12 months at three Aboriginal community-controlled health services in New South Wales. All assessments were completed between December 2008 and September 2010.

Intervention: A weekly box of subsidised fruit and vegetables linked to preventive health services and nutrition promotion at an Aboriginal Medical Service.

Main outcome measures: Change in episodes of illness, health service and emergency department attendances, antibiotic prescriptions and anthropometry.

Results: There was a significant decrease in oral antibiotics prescribed (− 0.5 prescriptions/year; 95% CI, − 0.8 to − 0.2) during 12 months of participation in the program compared with the 12 months before the program. The proportion of children classified as overweight or obese at baseline was 28.3% (38/134) and the proportion in each weight category did not change (P = 0.721) after 12 months. A small but significant increase in mean haemoglobin level (3.1 g/L; 95% CI, 1.4–4.8 g/L) was shown, although the proportion with iron deficiency (baseline, 41%; follow-up, 37%; P = 0.440) and anaemia (baseline, 8%; follow-up, 5%; P = 0.453) did not change significantly.

Conclusion: This fruit and vegetable subsidy program was associated with improvements in some indicators of short-term health status among disadvantaged Aboriginal children. A controlled trial is warranted to investigate the sustainability and feasibility of healthy food subsidy programs in Australia
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-50
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Volume199
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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