Dietary intakes and body mass indices of non-pregnant, non-lactating (npnl) women from the Coastal and Guinea savannah zones of Ghana
AbstractAdequate maternal nutrition prior to pregnancy is important for maternal health and favourable pregnancy outcomes. However, information on the dietary intakes of Non-Pregnant, Non-Lactating (NPNL) women in Ghana is lacking. A cross-sectional survey was undertaken to compare the dietary intakes of NPNL women of children aged 2 to 5 years who are either living in the Coastal (n=79) or Guinea Savannah (n=89) zones. Data were collected using various methods namely intervieweradministered socio-demographic questionnaire, 24hr dietary recall records, with data collected on one working and one non-working day within a week, and a 1-week food frequency questionnaire. Body mass index was derived from height and weight measurements. Women in the Coastal Savannah zone had significantly (p=0.05) more formal education (3.9 ± 2.5 years) and earned a higher (p<0.001) weekly income (Gh¢ 6.8 ± 2.7) than women in the Guinea Savannah zone with educational level and incomes of 2.2±1.6 years and Gh¢ 3.9±2.4 respectively. More women in the Coastal zone had significantly (p<0.05) fewer births and were heads of their households. Cereal-based foods were consumed daily by all women during the two-day observation period. Fish was the predominant animal source food in the diet in both zones. Significantly (p<0.05) more women in the Guinea Savannah zone did not meet their Estimated Average Requirements (EAR) for protein (81%), vitamin A (94.4%), and vitamin C (72%) compared to women in the Coastal zone (44%, 22%, and 31% respectively).The diets of both groups of women were low in calcium. Generally, women in the Coastal zone had a significantly (p<0.001) higher BMI (24.2 ± 4.6 kg/m2) than their counterparts in the Guinea Savannah zone (21.3± 2.4 kg/m2).The overall quality of dietary intakes and nutritional status of women in the Guinea Savannah zone was poorer than that of Coastal women. Dietary deficiencies are also present in NPNL women in Ghana. Efforts are needed to improve diet quality and to increase access to resources especially for women in the Guinea Savannah zone of Ghana.
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