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

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    31 Citations (Scopus)


    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; three Aboriginal community-controlled health services in New South Wales. A assessments were completed between December 2008 and September 201C Intervention: A weekly box of subsidised fruit and vegetables linked to prevent 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 participat in the program compared with the 12 months before the program. The proport 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 investigat 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
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2013


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