Anthropometric nutritional status, and social and dietary characteristics of African and Indian adolescents taking part in the TALENT (Transforming Adolescent Lives through Nutrition) qualitative study

Caroline Hd Fall, Mubarek Abera, Harsha Chopra, Polly Hardy-Johnson, Ramatoulie E Janha, Julie Jesson, Charudutta Joglekar, Shama Joseph, Sarah H Kehoe, Gudani Mukoma, Kejal Joshi-Reddy, Kalyanaraman Kumaran, Mary E Barker
Public Health Nutrition 2020 August 5, : 1-12

OBJECTIVE: To describe the anthropometry, socioeconomic circumstances, diet and screen time usage of adolescents in India and Africa as context to a qualitative study of barriers to healthy eating and activity.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey, including measured height and weight and derived rates of stunting, low BMI, overweight and obesity. Parental schooling and employment status, household assets and amenities, and adolescents' dietary diversity, intake of snack foods, mobile/smartphone ownership and TV/computer time were obtained via a questionnaire.

SETTING: Four settings each in Africa (rural villages, West Kiang, The Gambia; low-income urban communities, Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire; low/middle-class urban communities, Jimma, Ethiopia; low-income township, Johannesburg, South Africa) and India (rural villages, Dervan; semi-rural villages, Pune; city slums, Mumbai; low-middle/middle-class urban communities, Mysore).

PARTICIPANTS: Convenience samples (n 41-112 per site) of boys and girls, half aged 10-12 years and another half aged 15-17 years, were recruited for a qualitative study.

RESULTS: Both undernutrition (stunting and/or low BMI) and overweight/obesity were present in all settings. Rural settings had the most undernutrition, least overweight/obesity and greatest diet diversity. Urban Johannesburg (27 %) and Abidjan (16 %), and semi-rural Pune (16 %) had the most overweight/obesity. In all settings, adolescents reported low intakes of micronutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, and substantial intakes of salted snacks, cakes/biscuits, sweets and fizzy drinks. Smartphone ownership ranged from 5 % (West Kiang) to 69 % (Johannesburg), higher among older adolescents.

CONCLUSIONS: The 'double burden of malnutrition' is present in all TALENT settings. Greater urban transition is associated with less undernutrition, more overweight/obesity, less diet diversity and higher intakes of unhealthy/snack foods.

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