Inadequate intakes of dietary zinc among pregnant women from subsistence households in Sidama, Southern Ethiopia

Yewelsew Abebe, Alemtsehay Bogale, K Michael Hambidge, Barbara J Stoecker, Isabel Arbide, Akilu Teshome, Nancy F Krebs, Jamie E Westcott, Karl B Bailey, Rosalind S Gibson
Public Health Nutrition 2008, 11 (4): 379-86

OBJECTIVE: To assess the prevalence of zinc inadequacy based on dietary intakes and plasma zinc concentrations and, simultaneously, the prevalence of inadequate intakes of energy, protein, calcium and iron.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional study of a convenience sample of subsistence farming households in Sidama, Southern Ethiopia.

SUBJECTS: Dietary intakes were calculated from 1-day weighed food records and 40 repeats from 99 pregnant women in the third trimester using analysed values of major staple foods for zinc, iron, calcium and phytate. The distribution of observed intakes was adjusted for usual intakes and the prevalence of inadequacy estimated using the estimated average requirement (EAR) cutpoint method. Prevalence of inadequacy for zinc, protein and iron intakes were compared with those based on biochemical measures.

RESULTS: Prevalence of zinc inadequacy was very high: 99% for US FNB EAR and 100% for IZiNCG EAR compared to 72% based on low plasma zinc concentrations. Corresponding prevalence estimates for iron were much lower: 4% for inadequate intakes based on US FNB EAR vs. 8.7% for iron deficiency anaemia (haemoglobin < 110 g l-1; ferritin < 12 microg l-1) and 32.3% for low storage iron. Prevalence of inadequacy for protein was 100% for adjusted intakes and 91% for serum albumin < 32 g l-1. For calcium, 74% were at risk for inadequate intakes.

CONCLUSION: The high prevalence of inadequate intakes of zinc and protein was reasonably consistent with those based on biochemical measures. Such dietary deficits could be overcome by regular consumption of cellular animal protein. In contrast, both dietary and biochemical measures of iron inadequacy were low.

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