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INDIAN PEDIATRICS. 1994 Jun; 31(6):635-40.The study examined the health and nutritional status among tribal pre-school children in a variety of ecological zones in Madhya Pradesh state, India. The sample was a multi-stage random sample villages according to the availability of health services. 1401 pre-school age children were selected from Sarguja (351), an agricultural and forested area; from Bastar (731), a forest economy; and Jhabua (319), an agricultural economy. Food intake was determined by a 24-hour recall survey; a clinical examination was performed to determine nutritional status. Deficiencies in growth were determined based on measurement methods established by Gomez and Waterlow. The standard values were based on the 50th percentile of the US National Center for Health Statistics. Gopalan et al.'s Food Composition Tables were used to calculate the nutritive value of Indian foods. The results showed that the staple food grains in Sarguja and Bastar were rice; millets, maize, and jowar were the basic grains eaten in Jhabua. Milk intake was very low in all districts, but people also consumed a variety of pulses, leafy vegetables, roots and tubers, and wild fruits. Cereal intake was highest in Bastar (210 g) and Sarguja (193 g) among children 1-3 years old. These areas had higher intake of cereals and millets than the recommended dietary allowances of ICMR. Children in Jhabua had low intake of cereals and millets. Only Sarguja (31 g) had close to the recommended intake of pulses: 35 g. Pulse intake was 13 g in Bastar and 7 g in Jhabua. Intake of GLV; other vegetables, roots and tubers; milk, fats and oils, and sugar and jaggery was under the recommended values in all three districts. Only 35% of recommended intake of calories was met among children in Jhabua compared to 60% in the other two districts. Jhabua was the least close to recommended protein intake. This tribal sample had low clinical forms of protein energy malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency compared to others in the rural districts. Some iodine deficiency appeared among 4% of children in Sarguja. Tribal children were smaller and weighed less than the NCHS standard. Children from Sarguja tended to be taller and heavier than other Madhya Pradesh rural children. Malnourishment was 11.7% in Sarguja, 23.5% in Bastar, and 26.0% in Jhabua; stunting was respectively 50%, 48%, and 59%. 33.6% in Sarguja, 27.1% in Bastar, and 17.3% in Jhabua were normal based on Waterlow's Classification.