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Open Access Undernutrition among adult Dhimals of Naxalbari, West Bengal: Comparison with other tribes of eastern India

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Background. The tribes of India comprise approximately 8% of the total population of the country, which probably has the largest number of tribal communities in the world. In general, the tribal populations are among the most underprivileged and undernourished people in India.

Objectives. To determine the anthropometric characteristics and prevalence of undernutrition, based on body mass index (BMI), of adult Dhimals, a tribal population of Naxalbari, West Bengal, India, and to compare these results with those from four other tribes of Eastern India: the Bathudis, Kora Mudis, Santals, and Savars.

Methods. A total of 305 adult (18 years or older) Dhimals (159 men and 146 women) from three villages (Maniram, Hatighisa, and Buraganj) in the Mallabari area of Naxalbari were studied. These villages are located 5 km from Siliguri town, which is approximately 580 km from Kolkata, the provincial capital of West Bengal. Anthropometric measurements included height and weight. BMI was calculated by the standard equation. Undernutrition was evaluated according to World Health Organization (WHO) cutoff points.

Results. The overall prevalence of undernutrition (BMI < 18.5) was very high (36.4%). The prevalence was significantly higher in women than in men (46.4% vs. 27.0%; 2 = 12.54; p < .001; odds ratio, 2.35). According to the WHO criterion, the prevalence of undernutrition was high and the situation was serious in men. Among women, the prevalence of undernutrition was very high and the situation was critical. However, in general, compared with other tribal people of eastern India except the Santals, adult Dhimals had better anthropometric and nutritional profiles.

Conclusions. This study provides evidence that although the anthropometric and nutritional profiles of adult Dhimals are better than those of some of the other tribal populations of eastern India, immediate appropriate nutritional intervention programs are needed for implementation among this ethnic group.


Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106
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