• At least 31% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities have difficulty accessing affordable healthy food. (Getty)
A landmark study is looking to reduce the cost of essential, nutritious foods for remote communities.
By
Rae Johnston

Source:
NITV News
8 Jan 2020 - 2:15 PM  UPDATED 8 Jan 2020 - 2:15 PM

The University of Queensland has announced a $2 million community-led study looking for solutions to the lack of access to affordable, nutritious food in remote communities. 

The study in Central Australia and Cape York is focused on pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as carers of children aged under five.

The Apunipima Cape York Health Council and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress are collaborating on the study, whose funding was provided by a National Health and Medical Research Council grant to the University of Queensland's School of Public Health.

Once complete, the results will be used to create better informed health policy. 

Clare Brown, Apunipima's Nutrition Advisor, said the project came together through a "very positive" co-design process between Aboriginal community-controlled health service providers and researchers. 

"The project's community-led focus supports our way of working respectfully with Cape York communities, and is reflected in the Food Security Position Statement of Apunipima's board," said Ms Brown.

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Congress chief executive Donna Ah Chee said this study is the first of its kind in Central Australia, where there are high rates of diet-related iron deficiency anemia in women and young children.

"Iron-rich foods are very expensive in remote communities, and it is believed this is a key factor in causing the deficiency," said Ms Ah Chee.

"The study will enable key foods to be reduced in price. It will also enable the issue of food security to be more widely discussed."

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reported 31% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities experience food insecurity. University of Queensland Professor Dr Megan Ferguson told NITV News she believes there is underreporting in national surveys.

"As part of a larger study we conducted in very remote Northern Territory communities...with the same measure that is used nationally, we reported a prevalence of 62%," said Dr Ferguson. 

 "Improving food security for the whole family, especially women and children, will improve diet quality and health, and give children the best start in life for generations to come."