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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

Print version ISSN 1415-790X


OLIVEIRA, Juliana Souza et al. Food insecurity and nutritional status of children of São João do Tigre, semi-arid area of Northeast Brazil. Rev. bras. epidemiol. [online]. 2009, vol.12, n.3, pp.413-423. ISSN 1415-790X.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the nutritional status of children under five years of age and to verify its relation with food insecurity profile. METHODS: This is a cross-sectional study of 458 families with 558 children in the city of São João do Tigre, semi-arid area of the state of Paraíba, Brazil. Food insecurity was determined based on the Brazilian Food Insecurity Scale. Nutritional status was assessed through height-for-age, weight-for-age and Body Mass Index (BMI), using the World Health Organization curves as a reference. The associations of socioeconomic and biological variables with height-for-age were also examined. RESULTS: Food security was found in only 13% of families, and a moderate insecurity condition was more prevalent (40.2%). There was a lower frequency of malnutrition for BMI than normally expected (1.2% and 1.3% respectively for the rural and urban areas) with a high prevalence when considering height-for-age indices (16.8% and 12.9%, respectively). The linear regression analysis showed that only two variables (per capita family income and maternal years of schooling) had a significant influence on child height-for-age. CONCLUSION: In a population with a high poverty degree, low Human Development Index and high prevalence of food insecurity, the exclusive use of anthropometric indicators may show a more favorable nutritional status. Therefore, the results cannot be interpreted only in the field of internal validity, but as part of a process of fast changes that characterize the nutritional transition in course, also reaching populations in unfavorable life conditions.

Keywords : Food insecurity; Poverty; Nutritional status; Children.

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