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Aust J Public Health. 1994 Sep;18(3):277-85.

Survival tucker: improved diet and health indicators in an aboriginal community.

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Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin.


The poor nutritional status of Aboriginal Australians is a serious and complex public health concern. We describe an unusually successful health and nutrition project initiated by the people of Minjilang, which was developed, implemented and evaluated with the community. Apparent community dietary intake, assessed by the 'store-turnover' method, and biochemical, anthropometric and haematological indicators of health and nutritional status were measured before intervention and at three-monthly intervals during the intervention year. Following intervention, there was a significant decrease in dietary intake of sugar and saturated fat, an increase in micronutrient density, corresponding improvements in biochemical indices (for example, a 12 per cent decrease in mean serum cholesterol, increases in serum and red cell folate, serum vitamin B6 and plasma ascorbic acid), decrease in mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures, a normalisation of body mass index, and a normalisation of haematologic indices. The success of this project demonstrates that Aboriginal communities can bring about improvements in their generally poor nutritional status, and that the store-turnover method provides a valid, inexpensive and noninvasive method for evaluating the resultant changes in community diet. Although the project was undoubtedly effective in the short term, further work is in progress to assess individual strategies with respect to sustainability, cost-effectiveness and generalisability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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