Background. Many developing countries are experiencing a rapid nutrition transition in urban areas. Objective. To investigate whether a nutrition transition was occurring in a rural area by examining the dietary patterns of women in rural Tanzania. Methods.
A total of 252 women aged 16 to 45 years from three districts of northeastern and central Tanzania participated. During three different seasons in 2006–2007, the women were interviewed with the use of a structured, interviewer-administered questionnaire, including a 24-hour dietary recall.
From these recalls, the mean intakes of 12 main food groups were calculated and used to establish five dietary patterns by principal component analysis. Data were also obtained on attitudes toward obesity, body mass index (BMI), hemoglobin level, and measures of socioeconomic status and analyzed
for associations with dietary patterns. Results. The five dietary patterns were "traditional-coast," characterized by fruits, nuts, starchy plants, and fish; "traditional-inland," characterized by cereals, oils and fats, and vegetables; "purchase," characterized by bread and cakes
(usually fried in oil), sugar, and black tea; "pulses," characterized mainly by pulses, with few or no vegetables; and "animal products," characterized by a high consumption of meat, eggs, and/or milk. Significant positive associations were found, among others, between the purchase pattern
and BMI (ρ = 0.192, p = .005) and between the animal products pattern and wealth (ρ = 0.168, p = .002). Conclusions. Differences between traditional and modern nutritional food patterns were evident. This study found the "traditional-inland" pattern
to be the most healthy, while the "purchase" food pattern was the most prevalent. The purchase pattern, in particular, may provide some evidence for early stages of the nutrition transition in rural Tanzania.
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