Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
On-line version ISSN 1680-5348
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
FERREIRA, Haroldo da Silva et al. Nutrition and health in children from former slave communities (quilombos) in the state of Alagoas, Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2011, vol.30, n.1, pp.51-58. ISSN 1680-5348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892011000700008.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the nutrition and health status of children aged 6 to 59 months from 39 former slave communities in the state of Alagoas. METHODS Data on anthropometric, demographic, socioeconomic, and health variables were collected for this cross-sectional study. Deficits in weight-for-age (WFA), weight-for-height (WFH), and height-for-age (HFA) were defined as a Z score < -2. Overweight was defined as a Z score > 2 for WFH. The 2006 World Health Organization growth standards were used as reference. Anemia was diagnosed based on hemoglobin levels (HemoCue) < 11 g/dL. RESULTS We assessed 973 children (50.4% boys). Most families (60.8%) belonged to social class E (lowest), and most (76.0%) were assisted by the federal welfare program Bolsa Família. Heads of family had < 4 years of schooling (75.9%), and more than 5 people lived in the house in 57.1% of the households. The prevalence of WFA, WFH, and HFA (stunting) deficits and overweight was, respectively, 3.4, 2.0, 11.5, and 7.1%. Anemia was diagnosed in 52.7% of the children, without differences between the stunting and overweight groups (P = 0.43). CONCLUSIONS Stunting, an indicator of chronic malnutrition, was the most prevalent anthropometric deviation, followed by overweight, despite the disadvantaged socioeconomic profile. Anemia was a severe problem, affecting children with both stunting and overweight. Taken together, these findings suggest that the human right to adequate food is not guaranteed for the children from former slave communities from Alagoas. Therefore, the government should take the necessary measures to revert this situation.
Keywords : Anthropometry; nutritional status; protein-energy malnutrition; anemia; child, preschool; child nutrition; health of specific groups; Brazil.