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Effects of food policy actions on Indigenous Peoples' nutrition-related outcomes: a systematic review

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-03-19, 05:40 authored by Jennifer BrowneJennifer Browne, M Lock, T Walker, M Egan, K Backholer
© Author(s) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. Published by BMJ.

Indigenous Peoples worldwide endure unacceptable health disparities with undernutrition and food insecurity often coexisting with obesity and chronic diseases. Policy-level actions are required to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms. However, there has been no systematic synthesis of the evidence of effectiveness of food and nutrition policies for Indigenous Peoples around the world. This review fills that gap. Methods Eight databases were searched for peer-reviewed literature, published between 2000 and 2019. Relevant websites were searched for grey literature. Articles were included if they were original studies, published in English and included data from Indigenous Peoples from Western colonised countries, evaluated a food or nutrition policy (or intervention), and provided quantitative impact/outcome data. Study screening, data extraction and quality assessment were undertaken independently by two authors, at least one of whom was Indigenous. A narrative synthesis was undertaken with studies grouped according to the NOURISHING food policy framework. Results We identified 78 studies from Canada, Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand and the USA. Most studies evaluated targeted interventions, focused on rural or remote Indigenous communities. The most effective interventions combined educational strategies with policies targeting food price, composition and/or availability, particularly in retail and school environments. Interventions to reduce exposure to unhealthy food advertising was the only area of the NOURISHING framework not represented in the literature. Few studies examined the impact of universal food policies on Indigenous Peoples' diets, health or well-being. Conclusion Both targeted and universal policy action can be effective for Indigenous Peoples. Actions that modify the structures and systems governing food supply through improved availability, access and affordability of healthy foods should be prioritised. More high-quality evidence on the impact of universal food and nutrition policy actions for Indigenous Peoples is required, particularly in urban areas and in the area of food marketing.


JB is supported by an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. KB is supported by a Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship (102047). This study was funded by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth).


Publication Date



BMJ Global Health





Article Number



15p. (p. 1-15)


BMJ Group



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