Maori isolated, skipping meals due to inflation: dietician
MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF
Brittani Beavis at a fresh produce stall in Nelson Market. Beavis is a dietitian for Te Piki Oranga and says the Maori diet is suffering due to rising food prices.
Aotearoa’s spiraling inflation is being felt by the Maori community, says a dietitian working at the South Summit.
Brittani Beavis (Ngāti Raukawa) is a dietician who works for Te Piki Oranga, Kaupapa Maori primary healthcare provider.
Food was squeezed by the cost of living and parents often went without to feed their children first, she said.
“Food is now compromised because you have to pay for other things like doctor visits, repeat prescriptions, fuel, heat, electricity – all those things that have gone up. Food is usually the first to leave.
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A school breakfast club is seeing more children turn up for a meal as the cost of living rises.
She said reliance on food banks had “exploded” and the amount of food coming out of the service was “enormous compared to what it was”.
Maori did not use their cars as frequently and therefore became quite socially isolated.
Activities that were “important to a happy and healthy whānau”, such as going out to explore green spaces, exercise and social activities, were dropped, she said.
“Because whānau can’t afford it anymore. To buy a fucking cabbage, it can cost around $8 now and they just don’t have that.
The pandemic has also caused a lot of financial and emotional distress in families, reducing incomes and increasing stress levels – leading whānau to eat poor quality kai and gain weight.
Beavis said body size has increased gradually over the past few years, not because of personal responsibility, but rather because of a whole host of socioeconomic factors and social determinants of health.
The rising cost of living was also an issue, she said, because healthier diets were much more expensive to maintain, compared to more energy-dense, nutrient-poor diets.
Maori were initially on their backs due to colonization and other factors such as welfare dependency, poor health literacy and institutionalized racism in health care, she said. declared.
Growing kai was not a solution to food insecurity.
“If you have whānau with kids, working parents and money is so tight, and everything else was so tight, when do you really think those whānau will be able to go out and start a whole new vegetable garden? example, where are the time, money, resources and skills?
“Because you can’t expect people to find it themselves if they’ve never done it before.”
Over the generations, they had also lost the skills and knowledge to grow and maintain gardens – sometimes due to past practices like Housing New Zealand’s banning of plant plots on their properties, Beavis said.
“We have lost a significant portion of land belonging to the Maori, and [the] skills that accompany the maintenance of this land. It’s all gone.”
Beavis said a lot of shame and guilt had been placed on whānau for having a larger body – “when in fact a lot of it is out of their hands”.
“What really excites me is that people assume that obesity is a personal health choice and that’s not the case, especially if there are underlying socio-economic factors and trauma. long standing that resulted in binge eating disorder.”
She said we need to stop viewing obesity as the main health burden because it is not.
“Obesity is a symptom of social and health factors, it’s not really the cause.”