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Health outcomes of a subsidised fruit and vegetable program for Aboriginal children in northern New South Wales

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In high-income countries, lower socioeconomic status is associated with both higher prevalence of non-communicable diseases and less-healthy dietary intake.1 In this context, promoting healthier nutrition, particularly increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables, has become an important public health priority.2 For those on low incomes, it has been argued that the cost of healthier foods is an important barrier to improving nutrition.3 Though not widely implemented in Australia, food subsidy programs are one strategy with the potential to improve socioeconomic inequalities in dietary intake.

In 2005, a rural Aboriginal community-controlled health service initiated a program for providing subsidised fruits and vegetables to improve nutrition among disadvantaged Aboriginal families. This program aimed to engage families in preventive health care in partnership with the health service while also addressing the barrier of the cost of healthier food choices.

Our previously published evaluation of this program demonstrated improvements in biomarkers of fruit and vegetable intake among children.4 We were also interested in whether there were short-term health benefits…