4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2005  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/10/2005   
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Nutrition-related health conditions such as heart disease, Type II diabetes, obesity and renal disease are principal causes of ill-health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (NHMRC 2000b; SIGNAL 2001). While the relationship between health and nutrition is widely accepted, less well understood are the complex interrelationships between nutrition and health risk factors. For example, diet-related illnesses may be associated with environmental, behavioural, biological and genetic factors, making it difficult to determine the extent to which diet contributes to the disease (AIHW 2004b). The diets of many Indigenous people have undergone rapid change from a fibre-rich, high protein, low saturated fat 'traditional' diet, to one in which refined carbohydrates predominated (NHMRC 2000b). In addition, external factors such as the physical environment, dispossession of land, socioeconomic status, historical and cultural issues, and access to fresh food in remote areas all affect the choices Indigenous Australians have in terms of nutrition and diet.

The 2002 NATSISS did not collect information about diet or nutrition. However, results from the 2001 NHS show that while similar proportions of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people aged 15 years or over in non-remote areas reported a medium to high vegetable intake (two or more serves a day), Indigenous people were less likely than non-Indigenous people to report a medium to high intake of fruit. They were also more likely to consume whole (full cream) milk rather than reduced fat alternatives, and to add salt to food after cooking. For more information on nutrition, see chapters 3 and 6.

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