ASSESSING THE NUTRITIONAL STATUS AND SELECTED INDIGENOUS FOODS OF PEOPLE IN TWO COMMUNITIES IN ABIA STATE ()
This study assesses the nutritional status and traditional foods of indigenous people in two communities in Abia State. As a result of the high rate of food insecurity within the indigenous people, local food resources required investigation to identify food use. Secondly to develop food based strategies to combat malnutrition. The study also assesses some indigenous foods with a focus on their seasonality and attributes in two communities in Abia State. It determines the food consumption pattern of Igbo people in these two communities. It also studies food preparation and micronutrient rich foods commonly consumed among indigenous people and finally determines the nutritional status of children between 0-12 years using anthropometric measurement in the communities.
Two hundred households (one hundred from each community) were randomly selected from lists of households in the communities selected for this purpose of the study. Structured and validated questionnaire developed by the Global Health Research Group from McGill University, Canada was modified to the community setting and was used to collect information on the traditional food list. Information on macronutrient rich foods, the kind and duration of milk fed to the children and the age of introduction of complementary foods were obtained.
The result shows that traditional foods have medicinal, nutritional and socio-cultural values. The study also shows that starchy staples are important in the diet of Ohuhu and Ohiya communities in Abia State. They consume the staples in various forms at least once daily. Crayfish, dried and ice fish are main sources of protein and the quantity consume is a function of one’s income. Traditional food systems of indigenous people contain a wealth of micronutrient that have been poorly described and reported in scientific literature. This lack of scientific coverage prevents the information from being included in health training programmes. Fifteen percent (15%) of mothers exclusively breastfed their babies for varying lengths of time. Majority of the mothers breastfed for one year, however, some women continued for two years to meet with the WHO standards. The findings from weighed food intake show that traditional foods provide over 80% of calorie, protein, vitamin, thiamin riboflavin, niacin and ascorbic acid for 0-2 years, 3-5 years and 6-12 years. It confirms that indigenous people prefer to consume traditional food to imported foods. About one percent (1%) of 0-2 years old children in Ohuhu were wasted. Two children (0.5%) and six children (3%) were stunted and underweight respectively. Most malnourished children appeared to be normal to their parents until their weight/height and weight-for-age were compared with expected indicators, respectively. It was observed that in Ohiya, 1% of 0-2 years olds were wasted. Two children (0.5%) were stunted and underweight respectively. There is a significant positive relationship between (P <0 .05=”” and=”” food=”” indigenous=”” nutritional=”” of=”” people.=”” span=”” status=”” the=”” traditional=””>