Food security, selection, and healthy eating in a Pacific Community in Auckland New Zealand

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16(3):448-54.


When an infant is brought home to the family, it is often a time of emotional, economic and physical stress due to the extra demands placed on parents. Household food security means "access at all times to enough and nutritionally appropriate food to provide the energy and nutrients needed to maintain an active and healthy life". Questions about food security were asked of 1376 Pacific Island mothers (as part of the Pacific Island Family Study) approximately six weeks after the birth of their baby. Due to lack of money food sometimes ran out in 39.8% of households and in a further 3.8% food often ran out. Variety of foods was limited by lack of money in 39.3%. Foods that were still bought when money was limited included bread (97%), milk (95%), meat and chicken (91%), vegetables and fruit (83%), rice or pasta (82%), breakfast cereals (69%), fish or shellfish (50%) and biscuits or chips (44%). Alcohol (1%), soft drinks (11%), ice cream (12%) and fruit juice (21%) were the least often bought. Energy density (MJ/kg) and nutrient-density of typical foods limited by lack of money were analysed. Rice, bread and fatty meats provided the most calories per dollar and fruit and vegetables the least. The best protein-value for money was from minced beef, chicken and tinned tuna and the most fibre-rich foods included baked beans and mixed vegetables. Food security is a major problem for Pacific families. The environment of food availability, choice and cost requires attention to help close the health gap.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diet / standards*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Eating
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Female
  • Food / economics
  • Food / standards*
  • Food Supply* / statistics & numerical data
  • Food, Organic
  • Humans
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • New Zealand
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Nutritive Value
  • Postpartum Period
  • Poverty*