Dual forms of malnutrition in the same households in Malaysia--a case study among Malay rural households.Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2003; 12(4):427-37AP
This report is a part of a multi-centre study in Asia on the problem of dual forms of malnutrition in the same households. In Malaysia, the prevalence of underweight and stunting persist among young children from poor rural areas. Overweight in adults, especially women from poor rural areas has been reported in recent years. Thus, this study was undertaken in order to assess the presence of the dual burden of underweight child-overweight mother pairs in a poor rural community. Out of 140 Malay households identified to have at least one child aged 1-6 years and mother aged above 20 years, 52.1% of the mothers were overweight, 15.7% of the children were underweight, 27.1% stunted and 5% wasted. Socio-economic background and food intake frequency data were collected from 54 underweight child/overweight mother pairs (UW/OW) and 41 normal weight child/normal weight mother pairs (NW/NW). Compared with the overweight mothers, a higher percentage of the normal weight mothers had received secondary education, were employed and with a higher household monthly income, although these differences were not significant. Patterns of food intake of the mothers and children appeared to have more similarities than differences between the UW/OW and NW/NW groups. Quantitative dietary intakes for 2 days using 24-hr recall and physical activity energy expenditure over the same period were assessed in a sub-group of UW/OW and NW/NW mothers and children. The NW/NW children showed significantly higher intake of total calories, fat and riboflavin than the UW/OW counterparts. Mean energy and nutrient intake of mothers from both groups were not significantly different, although the NW/NW mothers showed higher intake adequacy for total calories and most nutrients. While most of the mothers from both groups reported having no chronic illnesses, about half of the children in both groups had infections, especially gastrointestinal infections, over a 2-week period. Energy expenditure from physical activity for both UW/OW and NW/NW mothers and children did not differ significantly. This study confirmed inadequate intake of total energy and nutrients as the major factor for underweight in Malay children from rural areas. However, assessing intake and physical activity by interview methods were not sensitive enough to overcome perceived problems of under-reporting of energy intake and over-estimation of energy expenditure, especially by overweight subjects. Further investigations on a larger sample are necessary to understand the family dynamics leading to the double burden of malnutrition within the same household.