Women's nutrient intakes and food-related knowledge in rural Kandal province, Cambodia.
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In Cambodia, both anaemia and vitamin A deficiency are serious health problems. Despite this, few comprehensive nutritional surveys have been completed to date. This study evaluates the adequacy of iron and vitamin A intakes, as well as women's nutritional knowledge in rural Kandal province. Twenty-four hour recalls, pile sort activities, socioeconomic surveys, focus groups, and market surveys were carried out with 67 women from 5 villages in rural Kandal Province. Ninety seven percent of women did not meet their daily-recommended intake of iron, while 70% did not meet their daily-recommended intake of vitamin A. Although many women consume vitamin A-rich and iron rich-foods daily, they do not consume large enough quantities of these foods. Results suggest that both the cost of foods as well as the extent of health knowledge is linked to nutritional practice. Most animal-source iron and vitamin A-rich foods are considered expensive; however, small fish, and several plant-source vitamin A-rich foods are inexpensive and easy to access. Despite health education, food restrictions lead some healthy foods to be considered to be harmful to women. Ultimately, this study demonstrates the importance of developing comprehensive nutritional interventions in Cambodia. Health programming must provide women with not only suggestions to include low-cost nutrient-rich foods, but also advise them about the quantities that are likely to have an impact on nutritional status. Programs should take a community-based, inter-sectoral approach that simultaneously combines culturally informed health education with initiatives that combat poverty and increase access to nutrient rich foods.
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