Nutritional Study of Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE: A problem seen in many underdeveloped towns is a lack of nutritional knowledge. This contributes to the improper growth & development of children, as well as prevalence of preventable chronic diseases. The purpose of this study was to analyze the level of nutritional education in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador & see how it correlated with local child growth and general prevalence of disease. METHODS: In the first study for child growth, data was collected by visiting various day cares where name, exact age, gender, height & weight were measured, as well as by going through files of those under the age of 18 in the clinic's records in order to obtain data points. Collectively, the data was plotted on CDC growth charts. The second study involved of a week of going door to door in an assigned sector of town (77 families, 130 inhabitants) with a nutritional knowledge survey, & collecting data from children to apply to the first study. The results of the survey were quantified & organized into a presentation and handout in Spanish. Announcements for the presentations were broadcasted over the local radio, resulting in good attendance. RESULTS: Based on the survey results, it was found that only 55% of the sector boiled their water correctly. When asked what foods contained protein, 69% gave a correct response, 16% did not know & 15% gave a wrong answer. For carbohydrates, less than 20% gave a correct response, 52% did not know & the rest gave wrong answers. For sugar, 80% were able to answer correctly & 20% did not know. For iron, 39% did not know what foods contained iron. For vitamin A, 9% gave a correct response, 50% did not know & the rest named wrong foods. For calcium, 24% responded correctly, 42% did not know, & the rest gave wrong answers. When looking at meal portions, it was found that most families served more than 50% carbohydrates & very little vegetables and protein. As for the growth chart for children, a stunted growth trend was seen compared to those children in urban areas. Out of 250 girls under the age of 18, 58% were under the 10th percentile for height & 26% under the 10th percentile for weight. For 143 males, 64% were under the 10th percentile for height & 33% under the 10th percentile for weight. Based on the survey of known chronic illnesses, 10.6% had diabetes, 15% had HTN, & 16.6% had cholesterol, although local doctors claimed that these rates were much higher due to poor diet. CONCLUSION: Based on the outcome of the growth chart analysis & nutritional survey, a correlation between poor nutrition choices and stunted growth & disease prevalence could be seen. Therefore, proper nutritional education plays an important role in lifelong health.