Dietary intake patterns and socioeconomic variables are well-known indicators for assessing the nutrition status of a society. The Khasi society is matrilineal, and women play an important role in the tribal community, especially with respect to family nutrition. We investigated the existing food habits, beliefs, and trends contributing to the nutrition and health of these women.
Nutrient intakes and food sources were studied in 650 Khasi tribal women older than 18 y. Personal interviews using the questionnaire method, 24-h dietary recall method, and food-frequency method were used to elicit information. Respondents were allocated to a low-income group (LIG) or high-income group (HIG). Within these groups, subjects were further classified as non-pregnant and non-lactating (NPNL), pregnant (P), or lactating (L). The dietary pattern was based on rice and cereals (392.48 +/- 13.81 g/d), flesh foods (21.51 +/- 8.63 g/d), green leafy vegetables (110.37 +/- 3.32 g/d), fruits (20.3 +/- 2.10 g/d), and roots and tubers (54.43 +/- 2.92 g/d).
Consumption of energy, protein, iron, and vitamin C were adequate except in L women in whom energy levels were significantly lower than the recommended daily allowance in the LIG (2187 +/- 111.12 g/d), protein levels in the LIG (60.85 +/- 4.48 g/d) and the HIG (66.96 +/- 2.99 g/d), iron levels in the LIG (13.64 +/- 1.63), and vitamin C levels in the LIG (66.55 +/- 6.55). Iron intake also was significantly lower in P women in the LIG (17.41 +/- 2.59 mg/d) and the HIG (23.23 +/- 7.47 mg/d). Consumption of pulses (18.49 +/- 7.41 g/d), dairy products (11.89 +/- 0.48 g/d), other vegetables (4.81 +/- 1.74 g/d), and fats and oils (10.52 +/- 4.71) were significantly below the recommended daily allowance, leading to low consumption of fat, calcium, and carotene in all physiologic states and income groups: calcium in all groups except HIG NPNL women (397.74 +/- 53.62 mg/d); carotene in LIG NPNL (1484.05 +/- 179.01 mg/d) and HIG NPNL (1641.35 +/- 227.86 micrograms/d) women, and LIG L (847.04 +/- 174.72 micrograms/d) and HIG L (1321.89 +/- 673.26 micrograms/d) women.
We suggested dietary modifications to make up the dietary deficits of calcium, fat, and carotene, particularly during pregnancy and lactation, and incorporating nutrition education into the community development programs.