Hunger, malnutrition in Canada's Arctic nears crisis

March 27, 2014

A new report highlighted Thursday growing hunger and malnutrition in Canada's Arctic as development snowballs and tastes change, and called for immediate actions to stop an "emerging public health crisis."

The report found that most northern households are twice as likely—27 percent versus a national average of 12 percent—to face hunger or fear of starvation.

Northern households with children reported even higher rates of . Nearly 115,000 people, mostly indigenous, live in Canada's northern territories.

The peer-reviewed study was prepared by the non-profit Council of Canadian Academies for the Canadian government, which is promoting in the Arctic as warming opens up the region to shipping, mining and oil and gas drilling.

However, jobs alone for populations that lived as hunter-gatherers for centuries won't address the problem, the authors concluded.

The expert panel called for "a range of holistic approaches" that includes a poverty reduction strategy, economic development and support for local food systems.

Undernourishment has become a "particularly serious and growing challenge" for northerners and "is a problem that requires urgent attention to address and mitigate the serious impacts it has on health and well-being," the researchers said.

The root of the problem is equally complex, they said, with "colonialism and environmental dispossession, rapid and sometimes unpredictable environmental change, economic transitions and material poverty, changing demographics and current logistical challenges" at play.

As a result, the local populations have faced "declining harvests of plant and animal wildlife species, increased imports and consumption of store-bought food and the discovery of environmental contaminants in traditional and country food."

Inuit and northerners who once ate mostly fish and seal meat along with local plants and berries are relying increasingly on imported foods, which they cannot afford to buy.

The report notes that the average cost of groceries in Canada's Nunavut territory is Can$19,760 (US$17,877) per year, while half of Inuit adults earn less than Can$20,000 per year.

Explore further: New report says 3.9 million Canadians struggle to afford food

Related Stories

New report says 3.9 million Canadians struggle to afford food

July 25, 2013
A new report by researchers at the University of Toronto shows that almost four million Canadians are struggling to put the food they need on the table because of food insecurity.

17 million US households lack proper diet: report

September 7, 2011
Over 17 million US households -- or 14.5 percent -- were unable to eat properly in 2010, either due to small portions, or chronically unhealthy diets, a government report said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.