Cash transfer programs, directed to the poorer segments of society, have promoted food security through increased dietary expenditures and improved dietary diversity1,2,3. This study aims to describe associations between Brazils conditional cash transfer program, Bolsa Familia (BF), and micronutrient status of Brazilian Amazonian children. We hypothesize that micronutrient status will be better among BF recipients (BFRs), mediated through improved dietary intakes with regularized incomes.
With 1,063 children aged 1 month to 10 years in Acrelândia, Brazil, a cross-sectional, population-based study design was used to examine prevalence of serum micronutrient deficiencies (iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D, folate) between BFRs (n=325) and non recipients (NRs) (n=738). Analyses of associations were explored using food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) to calculate dietary intakes of specific food groups over the previous month for children over two years.
Using ?2 tests, iron deficiencies were less prevalent in BFRs (33.5%) than in NRs (50.2%) (p=0.00). However, vitamin A deficiencies were more prevalent in BFRs (17.7%) than in NRs (12.9%) (p=0.04). No significant differences were observed between BFRs and NRs for deficiencies in vitamin B12 (p=0.13), vitamin D (p=0.17) and folate (p=0.36). BFRs were more likely than NRs to eat beans on a daily basis (p=0.024), while NRs were more likely to eat vegetables on a daily basis (p=0.025).
The BF program may provide some benefit to nutritional status though improved food baskets. In this setting, understanding and improving the supply side of affordable healthy foods may be needed to adequately diversify the food basket.