Health Of Canadian Aborigines Essay

1620 words - 6 pages

As the world is becoming more industrialized, processed foods are becoming cheaper and easier to purchase. This shift in natural food availability is becoming a growing health concern for people around the world; however, Canadian aboriginal communities are feeling greater negative effects of food insecurity (FI). When people in a community do not have “physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”, they are considered food insecure (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1998). While FI affects the health of all Canadians, the Aboriginal Peoples have been reported to have consistently lower health than other Canadians due to the extreme transition from their traditional low-fat, low-sugar diet to processed foods high in saturated fat and sugar (Health Canada, 1999, Kuhnlein, Reveveur, Soueida and Egeland, 2004, Receveur, Boulay, Kuhnlein, 1997). Food insecure Canadians are much more likely to develop chronic conditions, such as diabetes, and suffer from nutritional deficiency (Reading, 2009). While many physical illnesses arise from nutritional deficiency and FI, psychological challenges may also arise. Mental problems, such as depression, distress, and a reduced ability to learn have been documented as side effects of FI and nutritional deficiencies (Hamelin, Habicht, Beaudry, 1999). The recent changes in diet from traditional foods to processed food is the leading cause of health concerns, like diabetes, and nutritional deficiencies, such as iron-deficient anemia, in Canadian Aboriginal communities.
Indigenous foods are foods that are taken from the environment and incorporated into the cultural food. These foods, whether they are animal meat, plants, or earth minerals, have sustained Canadian Indigenous Peoples throughout history, until colonization by European countries. Indigenous foods such as root vegetables, leafy greens, berries, nuts and caribou meat provide adequate complex carbohydrates, vitamins (vitamin C), minerals (iron, calcium), fats and proteins (Kuhnlein, Turner, 1991). Many of these foods are available in the market today; however, 40-70% of Yukon First Nations, Dene/Metis, and Inuit, depending on location and age group, could not afford enough food. In addition, nearly 50% of these people did not have adequate fishing or hunting equipment, and 46% could not afford these activities (Lambden, Receveur, Marshall, Kuhnlein, 2006). Without proper equipment and financial security, obtaining traditional foods is becoming increasingly difficult. Modern processed foods are more readily supplied to remote Aboriginal communities because they are cheaper to produce and purchase and have a longer shelf life. The Government of Canada has provided a Food Mail program to subsidize the cost of transporting more nutritious foods to remote communities, but these foods are usually still too expensive for many families to afford. ...

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