Food and nutrition security in newcomer Manitoba youth

Thumbnail Image
Alexiuk, Tressa
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Food and nutrition insecurity are public health issues in Canada that greatly impact health and well-being. Food security is a necessary condition for an adequate diet but is not enough on its own to ensure optimal growth and development. Nutrition security is an additional and necessary condition. While evidence suggests that newcomer youth may have extra vulnerability to food and nutrition insecurity, population growth continues to be supported through immigration without clear strategies to protect the right to food. This study used an observational cross-sectional design to collect survey data from 1,347 grade nine Manitoba students. Using the WEB-Q online survey, students responded to a 24-hour diet recall and questions related to experiences of food insecurity, eating behaviours, and self-reported health. Food security status was determined through responses to the Child Food Security Survey Module. The 24-hour recall was used to assess diet quality through a derived Healthy Eating Index – Canada score and adherence to dietary recommendations. Descriptive statistical analyses were performed. Further analyses compared differences between newcomer and other study participants. Eighteen percent of newcomer participants were food insecure. Regardless of food security or newcomer status, very few participants had a ‘good’ overall diet quality. Participants were particularly poor at meeting recommendations for vegetables and fruit, fibre, calcium, and vitamin D. More males met recommendations for milk and alternatives, and iron intake. Females consumed more servings of whole fruit, and dark green and orange vegetables. There were no differences found between newcomer status for overall diet quality. However, a smaller proportion of newcomer youth met recommendations for vegetables and fruit, calcium, and iron. Further, a greater proportion of newcomer youth changed their eating behaviours to gain or lose weight. There were no differences found for self-reported health variables by either food security or newcomer status. However, a greater proportion of newcomer females than males reported not getting enough sleep and lower self-rated health. Findings suggest nutrition insecurity is not limited to food insecure newcomers. If the observed diet patterns continue, high rates of chronic disease in newcomer youth will follow and may persist in adulthood.
Nutrition security, Food security, Newcomer, Adolescent, Diet quality, Immigrant
Alexiuk, T. (2021). Food and nutrition security in newcomer Manitoba youth. Journal of the Home Economics Institute of Australia, 26(2), 23–29.