Determinants of Healthy Eating in Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: The Current State of Knowledge and Research Gaps

Les déterminants de la saine alimentation chez les peuples autochtones du Canada: État actuel des connaissances et lacunes au niveau de la recherche

Abstract

Aboriginal peoples are the original inhabitants of Canada. These many diverse peoples have distinct languages, cultures, religious beliefs and political systems. The current dietary practices of Aboriginal peoples pose significant health risks. Interventions to improve the nutritional status of Aboriginal peoples must reflect the realities of how people make food choices and therefore should be informed by an understanding of contemporary patterns of food procurement, preparation and distribution. Most of the literature documenting the health of Aboriginal peoples is primarily epidemiologic, and there is limited discussion of the determinants that contribute to health status. The majority of studies examining dietary intake in Aboriginal communities do not aim to study the determinants of food intake per se even though many describe differences in food intake across sex, age groups, seasons and sometimes communities, and may describe factors that could have an effect on food consumption (e.g., employment status, level of education, household size, presence of a hunter/trapper/fisher, occupation, main source of income). For these reasons, there are many gaps in knowledge pertaining to the determinants of healthy eating in Aboriginal peoples that must be filled. Given the diversity of Aboriginal peoples, research to address the gaps should take place at both the national level and at a more local level. Research would be important for each of Inuit, Métis and First Nations.

Résumé

Les peuples autochtones sont les premiers habitants du Canada. On observe chez ces divers peuples des langues, des cultures, des croyances religieuses et des systèmes politiques différents. Les habitudes alimentaires actuelles des peuples autochtones représentent des risques significatifs pour la santé. Étant donné que les interventions visant à améliorer le statut nutritionnel des peuples autochtones doivent refléter les réalités entourant le choix des aliments chez ces peuples, il faut s’efforcer de comprendre comment ils se procurent et préparent leurs aliments à l’époque moderne, ainsi que leur système de distribution des aliments. La plus grande partie de la littérature traitant de la santé des peuples autochtones est avant tout d’ordre épidémiologique; on y traite fort peu des déterminants reliés à l’état de santé. La plupart des études reliées à la consommation alimentaire dans les communautés autochtones ne portaient pas sur les déterminants de la consommation alimentaire en soi. Toutefois, de nombreuses études ont révélé des différences entre les sexes, les groupes d’âge, les saisons et parfois même les communautés à cet égard. Certaines études ont fait ressortir les facteurs pouvant influencer la consommation alimentaire (p. ex., statut d’emploi, niveau d’instruction, taille du ménage, présence d’un chasseur, trappeur ou pêcheur, occupation, principale source de revenus). De nombreuses lacunes ont été identifiées au niveau des connaissances relatives aux déterminants de la saine alimentation chez les peuples autochtones. Compte tenu de la diversité de ces peuples, les études visant à combler ces lacunes devront être menées à la fois à l’échelle nationale et locale. Il faudra mener des études aussi bien auprès des Inuits, que des Métis et des Premières nations.

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Correspondence to Noreen D. Willows Ph.D..

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Acknowledgements and source of support: The author appreciated the comments and editorial suggestions of Valerie Tarasuk, Olivier Receveur, and Brenda McIntyre, which benefitted the paper immensely. Noreen Willows is an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Population Health Investigator.

Remerciements: L’auteur tient à remercier Valerie Tarasuk, Olivier Receveur et Brenda Mclntyre pour leurs commentaires éditoriaux, la profondeur de leurs recherches bibliographiques ainsi que l’organisation des références utilisées dans le cadre du présent article. Noreen Willows est chercheure auprès de la Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Population Health.

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Willows, N.D. Determinants of Healthy Eating in Aboriginal Peoples in Canada: The Current State of Knowledge and Research Gaps. Can J Public Health 96, S36–S41 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03405199

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MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • diet
  • food habits
  • Indians
  • North American
  • Inuit
  • nutrition

Mots clés

  • Canada
  • alimentation
  • habitudes alimentaires
  • Indiens
  • Nord-américains
  • Inuits
  • nutrition