Dietary intake of macro and micronutrients in children: does recurrent illness reduce intake?

De Silva, A.; Atukorala, S.; Ahluwalia, N.
June 2004
Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition;2004 Supplement, Vol. 13, pS119
Academic Journal
Introduction: Approximately one third of children in Sri Lanka suffer from undernutrition. Recurrent infections that may lead to reduce dietary intake are thought to be an important cause of undernutrition in children. Objectives: To compare dietary intakes of macro and micronutrients in children with recurrent infections and healthy controls. Methods: 364 children, aged 5-10 years, who were recruited from the Children's hospital, Colombo, Sri Lanka for a study on iron and infection had their dietary intake assessed during a period of 8 weeks. Children with a past history of recurrent upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) with clinical and laboratory evidence of URTI during the observation period were the infection group (n = 180), while children without infections were controls (n = 184). A 24 - hour recall of the preceding day's diet was obtained at baseline, week 4 and week 8 (on 3 days) using a dietary data questionnaire incorporating common foods consumed in Sri Lanka. Food composition tables specially prepared for assessment of Sri Lankan diets were used to calculate nutrient intakes. Results: Children in both groups were of similar low socio-economic status. Analysis of dietary data indicated that children with infection and controls had lower intakes of energy, protein, carotene and ascorbic acid than recommended dietary allowances for their age groups. No significant differences were noted in average intakes of nutrients/day between infection and control groups;energy: infection group; 974 ± 198 kcal, controls; 979 ± 109 kcal (P = 0.80), protein: infection group; 29.6±8.5 g, controls; 28.8 ± 7.4 g (P = 0.37), iron: infection group; 11.0 ± 3.7 mg, controls; 11.2 ± 4.0 mg (P = 0.52), ascorbic acid: infection group; 10.3 ± 12.4 mg, controls; 11.7 ± 12.6 mg (P= 0.32) and vitamin A:infection group; 143.0±118µg retinol activity equivalents (RAE), controls; 149.6± 117 µg RAE. Conclusions: Children with URTI and healthy controls had similar dietary intakes. Recurrent mild infections may not be a cause of undernutrition in 5-10 year old children. Acknowledgements: International Life Sciences Institute, USA.


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