04:36am Wednesday 29 January 2020

70% of Inuit preschoolers live in food-insecure homes: McGill researchers

Seventy per cent of Inuit preschoolers in Nunavut, Canada’s largest territory, live in households where there isn’t enough food, a situation with implications for children’s academic and psychosocial development, found McGill University Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair Grace Egeland of the Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment and collaborators in an article in the upcoming issue of CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

The study, conducted by researchers at McGill and the Government of Nunavut, looked at 388 Inuit children aged 3–5 years in 16 communities in 2007–2008. The majority of children (68 per cent) lived with their biological or adoptive parents. Twenty-nine per cent were obese and 39 per cent were overweight. There was a high prevalence of public housing, income support and crowded homes.

Research teams conducted bilingual, face-to-face interviews that included demographic questionnaires and the United States Department of Agriculture’s 18-item Household Food Security Survey module. Questions included “In the last 12 months, did your children ever not eat for a whole day because there wasn’t enough money for food?” and “In the last 12 months, were the children ever hungry but you just couldn’t afford more food?”

“Food-insecurity is all too prevalent in homes with Inuit preschoolers in Canadian Arctic communities,” writes Dr. Egeland and coauthors. “The data suggest that support systems need to be strengthened for Inuit families with young children.”


About McGill University
McGill University, founded in Montreal, Que., in 1821, is Canada’s leading post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 34,000 students. McGill attracts students from more than 150 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English – including 6,000 francophones – with more than 6,200 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.

CMAJ – medical knowledge that matters
The Canadian Medical Association Journal showcases innovative research and ideas aimed at improving health for people in Canada and globally. It publishes original clinical research, analyses and reviews, news, humanities, practice updates and thought-provoking editorials. CMAJ.ca, a full-text website, allows people to use the latest health information. CMAJ has an impact factor of 7.5 and its website receives over 25 million requests a year.

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