Native Village
Youth and Education news
March 1, 2010     Volume 2

 

Inuit preschoolers often go hungry: study
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2010/01/25/inuit-children-hungry-mcgill.html
Condensed by Native Village

Nunavut: In the Canadian North:

70% of Inuit preschoolers live in homes where there isn't enough food.

Some children go an entire day without eating.

Inuit infant death rates (birth - 1 year) are 361% higher in Inuit areas than the rest of the Canada

The average grocery bill for those with young children is around
$430 a week, twice as much a family in the south pays.

29%
of Inuit children are obese, and 39% are overweight because families eat high-carbohydrate foods which are cheap and filling.

Adults are
skipping meals so that youngsters won't go hungry.

"When a mother would get tears in her eyes when these questions are getting asked, we realized there are a lot of hidden problems that haven't really come to light," said Grace Egeland from McGill University.

Egeland and her team held face-to-face interviews with the mothers and caregivers of 388 Inuit children ages 3-5. The study results were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

"These results highlight the dire maternal and infant health situations in the Inuit-inhabited areas," said Dr. Zhong-Cheng Luo from Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal.

Dr. Isaac Sobol, Nunavut's chief medical officer, said the lack of nutrition affects Inuit children's concentration and alertness. "Children aren't very well prepared to engage properly in school if they're hungry," Sobol said.

The high Inuit fetal and infant mortality rate may be preventable.  Researchers suggest:"

Provide food banks and subsidies for food with high nutritional value.

More research about environmental toxins in marine mammals and fish and the elevated risks of infant death and birth defects.

Funding to improve socio-economic and living conditions.

"Back to sleep" campaigns that teach mothers to place babies on their backs to avoid sudden infant death syndrome.

Programs to reduce smoking, second-hand smoke, and encourage breastfeeding.

"Food insecurity is all too prevalent in homes with Inuit preschoolers in Canadian Arctic communities," Egeland and her co-authors wrote. "The data suggest that support systems need to be strengthened for Inuit families with young children."

The good news is 44% of Inuit children still have access to traditional food hunted by family members or shared by others. However, many people don't hunt because they can't afford hunting equipment

The issue of hunger in Nunavut deserves urgent attention, said David Wilman, a Nunavut resident.  "If it doesn't, there'll be a crisis, I think a health crisis, among not just children, among many Inuit and among many northerners."

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