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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


PRADA GOMEZ, Gloria Esperanza; HERRAN FALLA, Oscar Fernando  and  ORTIZ CARDENAS, Rosario. Dietary patterns and access to food among displaced families in the municipality of Girón, Santander, Colombia. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2008, vol.23, n.4, pp.257-263. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVES: Describe the dietary patterns and extent of access to food among families displaced by armed conflict in a locality of the Santander department of Colombia. METHODS: A descriptive study of the food consumption of 101 families living in forced displacement in the urban and suburban areas of the municipality of Girón, Santander department, Colombia. During the second half of 2003, the person in charge of the family's food preparation completed a sociodemographic survey with questions on the monthly food expenditure, where the food was bought and with what frequency, and a log of food consumption during the preceding 24 hours. The dietary pattern was established according to the frequency of food consumption and preparation through a linear regression model that used the expenditure as a dependent variable. RESULTS: Of all the families, 34.7% reported not having access to food shopping and 13.9% received food donations. The average expenditure on food was 0.52 of the standard minimum wage. The only variable associated with expenditure was the number of family members working and contributing to the family budget (P = 0.037); for each working member, expenditure rose by increments of 0.07 of the minimum wage (95% confidence interval: 0.004- 0.149). No association was found between the length of time of the displacement and the food expenditure. The overall quality of the diet was deficient given that the recommended allowances of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products were not being met. CONCLUSIONS: Food insecurity encompassed 95.0% of the study families, even though they had been living as refugees for three years. The diet quality was substandard. The principal causes were low household income and a lack of knowledge regarding how to choose nutritionally superior foods. In addition to food donations, relief programs caring for displaced families should provide practical and educational training on nutrition, and thus, successful alternatives.

Keywords : Food relief; food supply; risk groups nutrition; diet; Colombia.

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