Seasonal Dietary Intakes and Socioeconomic Status among Women in the Terai of Nepal

Rebecca K. Campbell, Sameera A. Talegawkar, Parul Christian, Steven C. LeClerq, Subarna K. Khatry, Lee S.F. Wu, Keith P. West, Jr.


Despite widespread nutritional deficiencies, investigations of usual diet in rural South Asia remain sparse. The present study characterizes year-round and seasonal dietary patterns of women in the Terai of Nepal by sociodemographic status, using a novel, weekly single-visit and usual food frequency questionnaire that links recall to the agricultural season. The study was conducted across seasons in 2006-2008 among 15,899 women of reproductive age in Sarlahi district. Intakes were tabulated for all foods, overall and by socioeconomic status (SES), and in and out of season, as appropriate. Foods consumed regularly [median (interquartile range) weekly frequency] were rice [13 (7-13)], potatoes [10 (5-13)], legumes [6 (2-9)], and vegetable oil [13 (13-13)]. Animal products were infrequently consumed [1 (0-2) time per week] as were fruits and vegetables, most with a median weekly intake frequency of 0. Higher SES was associated with more frequent consumption of most food-groups, including in-season fruits and vegetables. Diets of women in the Terai of Nepal lack diversity and, likely, nutrient adequacy, which may pose health risks.

Key words: Dietary adequacy; Female; Food frequency; Interviews; Rural population; Seasons; Socioeconomic factors; Undernutrition; Nepal

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