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Sustaining healthy diets in times of change: linking climate hazards, food systems and nutrition security in rural communities of the Fiji Islands


Communities across the Pacific are being challenged by the impacts of climate change. Attaining food and nutrition security goals is also a priority for the region, particularly in relation to improving dietary quality and reducing the incidence of non-communicable diseases. Addressing these challenges requires context-specific research that incorporates a realistic understanding of the links between drivers of change, food systems, and how these influence diets and health. Using a case study approach, this study explores links between climate hazards, food systems, and diets in remote coastal villages of Fiji. Livelihood transitions and climate hazards explain why households have become less reliant on local fisheries and agriculture for their dietary needs. Most households are routinely consuming only locally sourced food items from four food groups, meaning dietary diversity is low. In addition, diets are shifting and now include significant quantities of energy-dense processed (imported) foods with lower nutritional value. The study highlights the importance of increasing availability of fruits and vegetables, mainly through local production, and diversifying sustainable sources of animal protein as strategies to increase diet quality. These communities are already implementing strategies to adapt to climate change, yet this study underscores the need to link climate adaptation with changes to food systems and diets, in ways that allow livelihoods to be sustained and the quality of life of rural dwellers to improve.

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We would like to thank the communities of Ono Island for their support and involvement in this study. DMH is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship and a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Postgraduate Scholarship.

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Correspondence to Daniela Medina Hidalgo.

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Communicated by Tony Weir

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Medina Hidalgo, D., Witten, I., Nunn, P.D. et al. Sustaining healthy diets in times of change: linking climate hazards, food systems and nutrition security in rural communities of the Fiji Islands. Reg Environ Change 20, 73 (2020).

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  • Food security
  • Food systems
  • Climate change
  • Adaptation
  • Pacific
  • Nutrition