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Public Health Nutr. 2002 Feb;5(1A):129-33.

The nutrition transition in Cuba in the nineties: an overview.

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Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Medical Science Calixto Garcia, Institute of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, Havana, Cuba.



To describe and analyse the changes in diet, physical activity and body composition of the Cuban population during the 1990s and the health implications of these changes.


Data on national food balance and physical activity are from government agencies and the Ministry of Public Health; nation-wide and local representative surveys were used to analyse body composition and leisure activities. Data on morbidity and mortality are from the Ministry of Public Health.


The collapse of the European socialist countries and the Soviet Union, as well as the reinforced United States' blockade, provoked a sudden shortage of fuel, raw materials, imported foods and essential supplies. Per capita energy availability decreased, physical activity increased, and the prevalence of obesity decreased. Nutrition deficiencies were observed in the early 1990s, while the trend of morbidity from non-communicable disease continued to increase. The nutrition transition characteristics following the economic recovery in 1995-1996 resembled those of the 1980s because of the increased food availability, decreased physical activity and increased obesity prevalence.


Programmes to deal with the complex situation generated a response in a remarkably short time. Undesirable changes in diet composition and the reduction of physical activity constitute a challenge in the current post-critical stage that must be prevented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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