Remote communities rely on bread for key nutrients: study

WHITE bread is the source of a disturbingly large proportion of key nutrients in some remote Aboriginal communities, a study has found.

The Menzies School of Health Research study into diets in three Northern Territory communities shows residents are surviving on a diet of mostly processed foods high in sugar and salt and low in fruit and vegetables.

“A further disturbing aspect of the diet is that fibre-modified and fortified white bread is providing a large proportion of key nutrients,” the authors wrote.

“There is no guarantee that nutrients derived from nutrient-fortified processed foods act in the same way as when they are derived from minimally-processed source foods.”

The study, to be published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, also found that the Aboriginal communities pay more for food than other Australians.

Most are also spending more on soft drinks than fruits and vegetables combined.

The study authors called for ongoing monitoring of community-level diets to improve nutrition.

“Very poor dietary quality continues to be a characteristic of remote Aboriginal community nutrition profiles since the earliest studies almost three decades ago,” they wrote.

“Further evidence regarding the impact of the cost on food purchasing in this context is urgently needed and the long-term cost benefit of dietary improvement needs to be considered.”

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