Dietary intake and growth pattern of children 9-36 months of age in an urban slum in delhi.
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This investigation deals with the dietary intakes and growth in early childhood in poor communities. Five hundred and forty five children, 9-36 months of age, and their caretakers (mothers) were selected randomly and invited to participate in the study. The food and nutrient intake of children was assessed using a 10-item food frequency and amount questionnaire (FAQ). The anthropometric nutritional status was assessed by the indices height-for-age (H/A), weight-for-age (W/A), weight-for-height (Wt/Ht) and MUAC, according to Indian and NCHS standards. The results showed that the intake of cereals, pulses, roots, green leafy vegetables (GLVs), other vegetables, fruits, sugar, fats and oils among children was grossly inadequate. The nutrient intake for energy was 56 percent of the current RDA. Anthropometric analysis revealed that the children were grossly undernourished. Seventy five per cent children were underweight, while 35 percent severely undernourished . Approximately, 74 percent children were having short stature (chronic malnutrition) with 39 percent severely stunted. Nineteen per cent children were excessively thin (wasted). The data regarding the degree of malnutrition among children demonstrated that 9.6 percent girls in 9-36 months of age had severe malnutrition as compared to 6.5percent males. The maximum prevalence of severe malnutrition was in the age 31-36 months (10 percent) followed by 9.6percent in 13-18 months. The moderate degree of malnutrition was around 30 to 33percent in age group 13-36 months. The evidence from the study provides a strong basis to suggest low food intake as the main cause of under/malnutrition and growth retardation (stunting) in early childhood in poor communities.