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.”
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