Food intake and dietary diversity of farming households in Morogoro region,Tanzania
The Tanzanian economy depends heavily on agriculture and hence human labor provides much of the power needed for farming activities. This study was carried out to determine the diversity and dietary adequacy of farming households in four selected districts of Morogoro region in Tanzania. Adult household members from 140 households participated in the study. A 24-hour dietary recall, dietary diversity score and frequency of food consumption tools were used to assess and quantify nutrient intake and adequacy of consumed diets in farming households. Tanzania food composition tables were used to compute estimates of the energy intake, macro and micronutrients consumed by farming households. Analysis was done using SPSS version 18 and Microsoft excel version 10. Cereal food group was consumed in relatively large quantities compared to other food groups in the surveyed households. The contribution of cereal group to energy intake was 75-82%, protein 8-16% and fat 9-14%. Stiff porridge made of maize flour was the mostly consumed cereal dish followed by rice. The mean intake of energy per day was inadequate; the intake of energy for men was 1402 kcal/day while for female was 1347 kcal/day meeting only 52% and 72%, respectively of the recommended energy intake. Generally, the consumption of protein from the animal sources was significantly low in all districts. Ninety-nine percent of the households rarely consumed eggs; 83% rarely consumed meat and poultry. Consumption of milk and milk products was inadequate as 92% of the households indicated that they rarely consumed these products. The intake of fat was also low by 53% compared to the recommended intake for adults. The intake of iron, zinc, and calcium was 40, 53 and 64%, respectively, which was not sufficient to meet daily requirements. Low intake of nutrients was generally attributed to inadequate food intake due to low feeding frequency, poorly diversified diets and sub-optimal practices in food preparation and cooking. The results from surveyed areas indicated that all districts are rich in terms of bio-diversity and food availability, nevertheless the consumption of these foods in the study communities was inadequate with regards to quantity and quality. This situation compromises nutritional status and pre-disposes farming households to diseases and infections hence affects work output, labor productivity and wealth generation. Educating farmers on the importance of consuming diversified and adequate diets from different food groups will improve their nutrition situation and stimulate more production hence increased agricultural productivity.
Key words: Dietary adequacy, Dietary diversity, Nutrition status, Tanzania farming households