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    Peer Reviewed

    [Urban-rural differences in food intake of poor families in Guatemala] Diferencias urbano-rurales en la ingesta de alimentos de familias pobres de Guatemala.

    Alarcon JA; Adrino FJ


    Differences in diet and nutrient consumption among impoverished families in urban and rural areas of Guatemala were analyzed using data from 2 surveys conducted in 1987. A sample of 200 families in the marginal community of El Milagros in Guatemala City inhabited largely by rural in-migrants and a sample of 900 families of agricultural wage workers from 195 rural communities in the northwestern altiplano participated in the nutritional study. Poverty, poor health conditions, and high rates in malnutrition among the children characterized both samples. The method of 24-hour recall in single interviews was used in both areas. The urban families were visited in July-August 1987 and the rural families in October-November. Reported consumption of foods of animal origin, milk products, eggs, and meats was over twice as high in urban areas as measured by average consumption and by the percentage of families reporting consumption Maize consumption was very high in rural but not urban areas. 97% of rural families prepared their own tortillas, tamales, and atole, and only 5% bought them prepared. In the marginal urban area by contrast, 31% of families prepared their own maize and 82% bought prepared maize derivatives primarily tortillas and tamales. Consumption of beans was higher in urban areas, largely because their cultivation is impossible in the high altitude communities of the altiplano. The average adult caloric consumption of 3194.3 in rural areas exceeded the 2637.5 of urban areas. But in both cases calorie consumption was below recommended levels. The urban total represented 86% of the daily recommendation of 3050 calories for a moderately active adult, while the rural total was equivalent to 91% of the daily recommendation of 3500 for very active adults. The average daily protein intake of 82.9 g in urban and 87.8 g in rural areas exceed the daily adult recommendation of 68 g. Almost 70% of caloric intake among rural adults came from maize, compared to 27% in urban areas. Wheat bread, beans, and sugar together accounted for 41% of total calories in urban areas. Almost 70% of protein in rural areas was contributed by maize and beans, while in urban areas over 30% was from foods of animal origin, 25% from beans, and 21% from maize. Despite their lower caloric consumption, urban families enjoyed more diversified diets and higher levels of calcium and vitamin A consumption. But vitamin A consumption met only 62% of the daily requirement in urban areas and 43% in rural areas, while iron consumption met less than 80% of the daily need in either area.
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