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Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004;13(1):61-8.

Nutritional status of women in Bangladesh: comparison of energy intake and nutritional status of a low income rural group with a high income urban group.

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Division of Nutrition, Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, University of Helsinki, Finland.


This study evaluated the influence of socio-economic status on energy intake (EI), anthropometric characteristics and body composition (BC) of premenopausal Bangladeshi women in two socio-economic groups. This cross-sectional study measured height, weight, biceps and triceps skinfolds by standard procedures. A three-day dietary record was used to estimate EI. The biceps and triceps skinfolds were used to calculate total body fat (TBF), fat-free mass (FFM) and body fat percentage (BF%) according to Durnin and Womersley. FAO/WHO/UNU equations were used to calculate basal metabolic rates (BMR). Two locations in Bangladesh were studied; the Dhaka city area and the west region of the subdistrict Nandail (Betagair Union) in the district of Mymensingh. Study subjects were premenopausal women (N =191) aged 16(40 years. The high socio-economic group (group H, N =90) consisted of women with high income and educational level. The low socio-economic group (group L, N =101) consisted of rural, low income, illiterate women. Both groups contained three subgroups (non-pregnant, non-lactating =1, pregnant =2, lactating =3). Socio-economic status had a significant effect on body weight, height, biceps and triceps skinfolds, BMI, TBF, FFM and BF% (P<0.001). These variables were significantly higher (P<0.001) in all subgroups of group H than in the corresponding subgroups of group L. The influence of physiological status on most of these variables was not significant. EI was, however, influenced by both socio-economic (P<0.001) and physiological(P<0.05) status. The mean EI was significantly lower (P<0.001) in all subgroups of group L than in the corresponding subgroups of group H. The contributory sources were different in high and low income groups. In both groups, EI was lower than the recommended level. Based on the dietary and anthropometric results, we conclude that malnutrition is a common feature among low income rural women. This contradicts findings in western countries, where obesity is prevalent in low income groups.

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