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The role of energy cost in food choices for an Aboriginal population in northern Australia

Brimblecombe, Julie K. and O'Dea, Kerin (2009). The role of energy cost in food choices for an Aboriginal population in northern Australia. Medical Journal of Australia,190(10):549-551.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 10137xPUB5
NHMRC Grant No. 124319
Title The role of energy cost in food choices for an Aboriginal population in northern Australia
Author Brimblecombe, Julie K.
O'Dea, Kerin
Journal Name Medical Journal of Australia
Publication Date 2009
Volume Number 190
Issue Number 10
ISSN 0025-729X   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Start Page 549
End Page 551
Total Pages 3
Place of Publication Australia
Publisher Australasian Medical Publishing Company Pty. Ltd.
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Objective: To explore the relationship between dietary quality and energy density of foods (MJ/kg) and energy cost ($/MJ) for an Aboriginal population living in a remote region of northern Australia.

For a 3-month period in 2005, we collected food and non-alcoholic beverage supply data from food outlets available to the study population. From these data, we compared the energy density of foods with their energy cost.

Main outcome measures:
Energy density and energy cost of food purchases.

The diet of the study population was high in refined carbohydrates and low in fresh fruit and vegetables. Foods with high energy density were associated with lower costs and contributed disproportionately to energy availability.

The energy–cost differential between energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods and energy-dilute, nutrient-rich foods influences the capacity of Australian Aboriginal people living in remote communities to attain a healthy diet. This is consistent with the “economics of food choice” theory, whereby people on low incomes maximise energy availability per dollar in their food purchasing patterns, and has particular relevance for developing nutrition policy and strategies in Aboriginal communities, where poor nutrition is a major determinant of preventable chronic disease.
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