Anthropometric indications and nutritional intake of women in the Vaal Triangle, South Africa

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Objetives. The main purpose of this study was to determine the anthropometric indications and nutritional intake of pregnant and lactating women in the Vaal Triangle (n=431). Design and methods. A validated quantitative food frequency questionnaire was used in this study. Trained fieldworkers conducted interviews with the help of food models to estimate portion sizes. The anthropometric measurements included weight, height and body mass index (BMI). Blood samples were collected for determining iron status parameters. Results. The 10 items consumed most frequently by pregnant women were, in descending order: fresh milk; tea; coffee; cold drinks; maize meal; fruit juice; bread; magou (non-alcoholic fermented maize drink); rice and sugar. For lactating women, the results were: fresh milk; tea; coffee; maize meal; cold drinks; magou; bread; yoghurt; rice and sugar. Daily intakes (mean±SD) for pregnant women were 8425.71± 2279 kJ, 73.18±23 g protein, 62.29±23.7 g fat, 292.45±72.2 g carbohydrate and 9.74±3.8 mg iron. For lactating women, the intakes were 8511.94±2047 kJ, 76.24±25 g protein, 61.95±22.3 g fat, 294.37±64.2 g carbohydrate and 10.50±4.0 mg iron. The results of this study showed that most of the women (98%) resided in towns and 79.3% were unemployed. The majority of the sample population was overweight or obese (BMI≧25). Conclusions. The diets of the subjects consisted primarily of plant-based foods. Animal foods were scarce except for milk. Most of the items consumed were low in iron. Implications. Iron deficiency is partly induced by plant-based diets containing low levels of poorly bio-available iron. An assessment of dietary intake is required to aid in the development of relevant dietary guidelines for the sample population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-300
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Lactating women
  • Nutritional status
  • South African pregnant


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