Awareness of a serious Indigenous health problem in Australia did not emerge until the 1960s and 1970s. Much attention was focused at the time on poor pregnancy outcomes, high infant and young child mortality rates, and childhood malnutrition and impaired growth, often associated with high infectious disease burdens.
Although that situation has improved somewhat, Indigenous infant and child health is still poor compared with that of other Australian children.
Over recent decades, there has been a rapid rise among Indigenous people of nutrition-related “lifestyle” disorders such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and chronic renal disease and their complications.
This epidemic of disabling and often fatal chronic diseases in Indigenous Australians is also occurring in disadvantaged groups in many other countries.
Control of this potentially disastrous epidemic must become a much higher priority in Indigenous health programs. Governments must commit to this task in cooperation and collaboration with Indigenous organisations and communities.
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