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Addressing the public health burden caused by the nutrition transition through the Healthy Foods North nutrition and lifestyle intervention programme

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Dietary inadequacies, low levels of physical activity, excessive energy intake and high obesity prevalence have placed Inuit and Inuvialuit populations of the Canadian Arctic at increased risk of chronic disease. An evidence-based, community participatory process was used to develop Healthy Foods North (HFN), a culturally appropriate nutrition and physical activity intervention programme that aimed to reduce risk of chronic disease and improve dietary adequacy amongst Inuit/Inuvialuit in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. HFN was implemented over the course of 12 months in a series of seven phases between October 2008 and 2009 (Nunavut) and June 2008 and 2009 (Northwest Territories). Combining behaviour change and environmental strategies to increase both the availability of healthful food choices in local shops and opportunities for increasing physical activity, HFN promoted the consumption of traditional foods and nutrient-dense and/or low energy shop-bought foods, utilisation of preparation methods that do not add fat content, decreased consumption of high-energy shop-bought foods, and increased physical activity. Messages identified in the community workshops, such as the importance of family eating and sharing, were emphasised throughout the intervention. Intervention components were conducted by community staff and included working with shops to increase the stocking of healthy foods, point of purchase signage and promotion in shops and community settings, pedometer challenges in the workplace and use of community media (e.g. radio and cable television advertisements) to reinforce key messages. HFN represents an innovative multilevel approach to the reduction of chronic disease risk factors amongst Inuit and Inuvialuit, based on strong collaboration with local agencies, government and institutions.

Keywords: Aboriginal Health; Arctic; food shops; health education; nutrition and physical activity intervention; worksites

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Canada 2: Center for Human Nutrition, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA 3: The Hamlet of Taloyoak, Taloyoak, NU, Canada 4: The Northwest Territories and Nunavut Public Health Association, Inuvik, NT, Canada

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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