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Anaemia and vitamin A status among adolescent schoolboys in Dhaka City, Bangladesh.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the prevalence of anaemia and subclinical vitamin A deficiency among adolescent schoolboys in Dhaka City, Bangladesh, and to identify factors related to anaemia and vitamin A status.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional study.

SETTING: Government high schools in Dhaka City, Bangladesh.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: A total of 381 boys, aged 11-16 years, from 10 schools in Dhaka City participated in the study. Socio-economic, anthropometric and dietary data were collected. Haemoglobin and serum retinol (vitamin A) concentrations were determined.

RESULTS: Seven per cent of the boys were anaemic and 22% had serum vitamin A levels below the adequate level of 1.05 micromol l(-1), with only 1.5% having subclinical vitamin A deficiency (<0.70 micromol l(-1)). Food frequency data revealed poor dietary habits. Multiple regression analysis showed that age, body mass index (BMI), parents' occupation, serum vitamin A level and frequency of intakes of meat and fruit were significantly independently related to haemoglobin level. The overall F-ratio (13.1) was highly significant (P<0.000) and the adjusted R(2) was 0.192. For serum vitamin A, BMI, father's education, per capita expenditure on food, haemoglobin concentration and frequency of intake of vitamin A-rich fruit were found to be significantly independently related. The overall F-ratio (14.5) was highly significant (P<0.000) and the adjusted R(2) was 0.186.

CONCLUSION: The data show that adolescent schoolboys in Dhaka City have anaemia and inadequate vitamin A status, although the extent of the problems is lower than in other population groups in the country. Sociodemographic and dietary factors appear to have important relationships with anaemia and vitamin A status of these boys.

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