Anaemia and vitamin A deficiency (VAD) are major micronutrient deficiencies that affect 30% of the worlds population and 250 million preschool children respectively. This study examines whether dietary diversity score (DDS) ensures micronutrient adequacy and its relationship with blood haemoglobin levels and serum retinol levels in two districts of India.
One day 24 hour diet recall was employed to understand the intake of micronutrients from diet and to calculate DDS. Finger prick blood samples were collected using filter paper technique to assess the hemoglobin levels by cyanmethaemoglobin method (Drabkins method) andblood vitamin A levels by dried blood spot technique.
Pooled data showed that 67% of preschool children and 71% of women were affected by anaemia with mean haemoglobin levels of 10 mg/dl in preschool children and 11mg/dl in 12 to 45 years girls and women. VAD was seen in 30% of preschool children with mean serum retinol levels of 24.5 µg/dl. A score of 7 out of 13 food groups was observed in both the locations. DDS was highly correlated with adequacy of micronutrients like iron, vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin A. DDS showed positive relationship with haemoglobin levels of adult women in Wardha and preschool children in Koraput and in 12 to 17 years girls in the pooled data of both locations. DDS showed negative association with serum retinol levels which is not practical.
It can be concluded that although there was sufficient consumption of iron through diet it is not reflected in the blood haemoglobin and serum retinol levels. Absorption rates, inhibiting factors in diets, sanitation, and socio-economic parameters play a crucial role in micronutrient deficiencies. The findings suggest the need for behavioural change communication and nutritional awareness on importance of micronutrients.