Open Access Dietary patterns and nutritional health of women: The nutrition transition in rural Tanzania

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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.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • 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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