Food insecurity among Inuit females exacerbated by socio-economic stresses and climate change

2010 June 1

Beaumier, M., and Ford, J. Canadian Journal of Public Health 101(3), 196-201. Find PDF.

Objectives: To identify and characterize the determinants of food insecurity among Inuit women.

Methods: A community-based study in Igloolik, Nunavut, using semi-structured interviews (n=36) and focus groups (n=5) with Inuit women, and key informants interviews with health professionals (n=13).

Results: There is a high prevalence of food insecurity among Inuit females in Igloolik, with women in the study reporting skipping meals and reducing food intake on a regular basis. Food insecurity is largely transitory in nature and influenced by food affordability and budgeting; food knowledge; education and preferences; food quality and availability; absence of a full-time hunter in the household; cost of harvesting; poverty; and addiction. These determinants are operating in the context of changing livelihoods and climate-related stresses.

Conclusion: Inuit women’s food insecurity in Igloolik is the outcome of multiple determinants operating at different spatial-temporal scales. Climate change and external socio-economic stresses are exacerbating difficulties in obtaining sufficient food. Coping strategies currently utilized to manage food insecurity are largely reactive and short-term in nature, and could increase food system vulnerability to future stresses. Intervention by local, territorial and federal governments is required to implement, coordinate and monitor strategies to enhance women’s food security, strengthen the food system, and reduce vulnerability to future stressors.

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