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Health outcomes of a subsidised fruit and vegetable program for Aboriginal children in northern New South Wales

Black, Andrew P., Vally, Hassan, Morris, Peter S., Esterman, Adrian J., Smith, Fiona E. and O'Dea, Kerin (2013). Health outcomes of a subsidised fruit and vegetable program for Aboriginal children in northern New South Wales. Medical Journal of Australia,199(1):46-50.

Document type: Journal Article
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Title Health outcomes of a subsidised fruit and vegetable program for Aboriginal children in northern New South Wales
Author Black, Andrew P.
Vally, Hassan
Morris, Peter S.
Esterman, Adrian J.
Smith, Fiona E.
O'Dea, Kerin
Journal Name Medical Journal of Australia
Publication Date 2013
Volume Number 199
Issue Number 1
ISSN 0025-729X   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84879918442
Start Page 46
End Page 50
Total Pages 5
Place of Publication Australia
Publisher Australasian Medical Publishing Company Pty. Ltd.
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract 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 at three Aboriginal community-controlled health services in New South Wales. All assessments were completed between December 2008 and September 2010.

Intervention: A weekly box of subsidised fruit and vegetables linked to preventive 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 participation in the program compared with the 12 months before the program. The proportion 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 investigate the sustainability and feasibility of healthy food subsidy programs in Australia.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.5694/mja13.10445   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)


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