Objective: To consider the plausible nutritional impacts of fluctuations in money availability within an income cycle for remote Indigenous Australians.
Design: Community-level dietary intake (energy, micro/macronutrients) and expenditure on foods and beverages (F&B) were estimated over one year for three remote Indigenous Australian communities (Northern Territory, Australia) using monthly F&B transaction data. F&B that were likely to be consumed during a period within an income cycle when money was relatively limited (low money period (LMP) foods) were identified by panel consensus and scenario modelling was conducted to simulate the nutritional outcomes of a range of F&B selection responses to having an LMP.
Results: All scenarios resulted in reduced diet quality during the LMP relative to overall average diet values. Protein and fat energy percentages were reduced and carbohydrate energy percentage increased. Despite reduced expenditure, declines in energy intake were typically buffered due to the reduced energy cost ($AU/MJ) of the LMP diet. The micronutrient profile of the LMP diet was substantially poorer, such that additional key micronutrients dropped below population-weighted Estimated Average Requirements/Adequate Intakes.
Conclusions: The modelling undertaken herein suggests that even a short period of low money within an income cycle may noticeably contribute to the reduced diet quality of remote Indigenous Australians and exacerbate lifestyle disease risk. Dietary strategies that are designed to respond to diets and expenditure during different income cycle periods, rather than the overall average diet and expenditure, should be considered for improving diet quality and reducing cardiometabolic disease risk in remote Indigenous Australians.