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Australian Aboriginal Nutrition, Diet Neglected By Gov't

Update Date: Aug 06, 2014 04:10 PM EDT

More needs to be done to help improve the diet of Indigenous Australians, according to a new paper examining recent national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy.

After examining Aboriginal-specific health policies and strategies developed between 2000 and 2012, researchers from La Trobe University believe that the Australian government has not been given enough priority to improve diet and nutrition.

"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," lead researcher Jennifer Browne from La Trobe University said in a news release.

"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," she added.

Browne said that it is important that indigenous Australians are educated about nutrition because diet is responsible for many factors of wellbeing such as birth weight, child development, maternal health and oral health.

"It is an important determinant of the chronic diseases that reduce Aboriginal life expectancy," Browne concluded. "Improving nutrition is essential for promoting Aboriginal health, and this needs to be supported by policy at the national level."

The findings are published in the latest issue of Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

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