Micronutrient Status and Dietary Diversity of Women of Reproductive Age in Rural Pakistan

Brazier, Anna orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1744-1190, Lowe, Nicola M orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6934-2768, Zaman, Mukhtiar, Shahzad, Babar, Ohly, Heather orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2493-5834, McArdle, Harry J., Ullah, Ubaid, Broadley, Martin R., Bailey, Elizabeth H. et al (2020) Micronutrient Status and Dietary Diversity of Women of Reproductive Age in Rural Pakistan. Nutrients, 12 (11). e3407.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12113407


Consuming a diverse diet is essential to ensure an adequate intake of micronutrients. The aim of this study was to assess the nutritional status and dietary diversity of women of reproductive age (WRA) living in a marginalized community in rural Pakistan. Forty-seven WRA (35 ± 7 years old) who were not pregnant or lactating at enrollment, were recruited to participate in the study. Twenty-four-hour dietary recall interviews were conducted by the study nutritionist, and the data collected were used to create a minimum dietary diversity for women score (MDD-W) on five occasions during the monsoon and winter seasons (October to February). Nutritional status was assessed using anthropometry and biochemical markers of micronutrient status. Height and weight were used to determine body mass index (BMI), and mid-upper-arm circumference was measured. Plasma zinc, iron, and selenium concentrations were measured using inductively coupled mass spectrometry, and iron status was assessed using serum ferritin and blood hemoglobin concentrations. The mean (±SD) food group diversity score was 4 ± 1 with between 26% and 41% of participants achieving an MDD-W of 5. BMI was 27.2 ± 5.5 kg/m2 with 28% obese, 34% overweight, and 6% underweight. The prevalence of zinc deficiency, based on plasma zinc concentration, was 29.8%; 17% of the participants had low plasma selenium levels; 8.5% were iron deficient; and 2% were suffering from iron deficiency anemia. The findings indicate that the women living in this community consume a diet that has a low diversity, consistent with a diet low in micronutrients, and that zinc deficiency is prevalent. Public health interventions aimed at increasing the dietary diversity of WRA are needed to improve the micronutrient intake, particularly of zinc, in this population.

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