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Making healthy food choices the easy choice for people in remote Indigenous communities

Dr Emma McMahon, Institution: Menzies School of Health Research

2018 Vanguard Grant

Years funded: 2019-2021


Heart disease is the main cause of death for Indigenous Australians and is disproportionately high in those who live remotely; this is largely underpinned by poor diet quality.

Most food consumed in remote communities comes from the community store; these are mostly owned by the community and governed by elected store committees. Provided with the right information, store committees can change store policy and practice to encourage healthier food purchasing, improving diet in remote Indigenous communities.

We will test an innovative approach to reducing heart disease risk by providing a powerful decision support tool for community stores to improve diet in remote Indigenous communities. We have developed community nutrition reports that track diet quality over time, benchmarked against dietary guidelines and other stores.

Through structured integration of these reports into store committee meetings, public health nutritionists can guide the communities they service to identify and prioritise nutrition issues and plan best practice changes such as modifying availability, pricing, promotion and placement of healthy/unhealthy foods to make healthy choices the easy choices. We will test the feasibility of this approach and effectiveness for improving markers of diet quality. If effective, this is a cost-effective, sustainable approach to improving diet and reducing heart disease risk in remote Indigenous communities.

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