Vitamin A and iron consumption and the role of indigenous vegetables: A household level analysis in the Philippines
Micronutrient malnutrition is a public health problem in many regions of the developing world. Severe vitamin A and iron deficiencies are of particular concern due to their high prevalence and their serious, multiple health effects on humans. This paper examines dietary patterns and nutrient intakes, as well as their socioeconomic determinants among households in the Philippines. Since promotion of indigenous vegetables is often considered as an avenue to reduce micronutrient malnutrition, special emphasis is placed on analyzing the contribution of this particular food group to household vitamin A and iron intakes. We use a sample consisting of 172 resource-poor households located in peri-urban areas of Laguna Province. A 24-hour food consumption recall allows for detailed, meal-specific examination of diets. Results of the dietary analysis suggest that fish is of major importance for vitamin A and iron intakes. But also vegetables, and especially indigenous vegetables, play an essential role for balanced household diets. In order to determine socioeconomic factors influencing vitamin A and iron intakes, we employ an econometric model, which shows that deficiencies are strongly associated with low household incomes and poverty. Thus, poverty alleviation will help reduce the problem of micronutrient malnutrition in the medium and long run. However, in the interim, more targeted interventions will be needed. Our results suggest that promotion of indigenous vegetables can play a role in this respect, especially among the poor, who can often not afford sufficient amounts of animal products.
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