High folate levels in Aboriginal children after subsidised fruit and vegetables and mandatory folic acid fortification

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To evaluate the impact of a fruit and vegetable (F&V) subsidy program for disadvantaged Aboriginal children in Australia, implemented alongside the introduction of mandatory folic acid fortification of bread-making flour. Methods: A before-and-after evaluation was undertaken of a F&V subsidy program at three Aboriginal community-controlled health services in New South Wales. The program provided a weekly box of subsidised F&V linked to preventive health services and nutrition promotion for families. In this analysis, red blood cell (RBC) folate was assessed together with self-reported dietary intake at baseline and 12 months later in a cohort of 125 children (aged 0–17 years). Results: No children had low RBC folate at baseline or at follow-up; however, 33 children (26%) exceeded the reference range of RBC folate at baseline and 38 children (30%) exceeded the reference range at follow-up. Mean RBC folate levels increased substantially in children at follow-up (mean RBC folate z-score increased +0.55 (95%CI 0.36–0.74). Change in F&V intake (p=0.196) and mean bread intake (p=0.676) were not statistically significant predictors for change in RBC folate levels. Conclusions: RBC folate levels increased among these disadvantaged Aboriginal children following mandatory folic acid fortification and participation in a subsidised F&V program. Even before mandatory folic acid fortification, none of these children had low RBC folate. Implications: The effect on health of mandatory fortification of foods with folate is not clear, hence, ongoing population-based monitoring of folate levels to assess the impact of mandatory folic acid fortification is important
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-246
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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