Dietary assessment of refugees living in camps: a case study of Mae La Camp, Thailand

Orapin Banjong, Andrea Menefee, Kitti Sranacharoenpong, Uraiporn Chittchang, Pasamai Eg-kantrong, Atitada Boonpraderm, Sopa Tamachotipong
Food and Nutrition Bulletin 2003, 24 (4): 360-7
This study presents data on consumption patterns, methods of food procurement, and adequacy of dietary intake among Burmese refugee camp households living along Thailand's border with Burma. Households established for one or more years and with children under 15 years of age were sampled. A questionnaire was used to determine economic, food-consumption, and dietary intake patterns; foods consumed were weighed and measured using a 24-hour recall for the household unit; and nutritional status was determined by a Microtoise tape and digital standing scales. In total, 182 households containing 1,159 people were surveyed. The average household energy and protein intakes were 96.6% and 111.4%, respectively, of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for healthy Thais. Twelve percent of protein was derived from animal sources. Carbohydrate, protein, and fat accounted for 84%, 9%, and 7% of total energy, respectively. The intake of vitamins A, B1, B2, and C and of calcium ranged from 24.2% to 53.1% of the RDA. Iron intake was 85.3% of the RDA, derived mainly from rice, fermented fish, mung beans, green leafy vegetables, and eggs. Ration foods supplied 60.5% to 98.18% of all nutrients consumed in the households, with the exception of vitamins A and C. Among children under five years of age, 33.7% were underweight, 36.4% were studied, and 8.7% were wasted. Although the refugees were able to procure some nonration foods by foraging, planting trees and vegetables, raising animals, and purchasing and exchanging ration foods for other items, the quantity and quality were not sufficient to compensate for the nutrients that were low or lacking in the ration. The overwhelming majority of dietary nutrients were provided by ration foods, and although the ration and the overall diet may be adequate for short-term subsistence, they do not suffice for long-term survival and optimal growth, especially for younger children.


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