Although later than in most other countries in South-East Asia, the prevalence of obesity is also on the rise in Cambodia. We combined the data from the Cambodian Demographic Health Survey (CDHS-2014) with the Cambodian Micronutrient Survey to examine whether micronutrient deficiencies are mainly restricted to undernourished women, or are affecting the whole population.
One-sixth of households with children less than 6 years of age who had participated in the CDHS-2014 were revisited within 2 months to obtain biomarkers of micronutrient status. Data on micronutrient status was available 728 women.
Overall, 13% of the women were classified as chronic malnourished (BMI<18.5), 17.7% undernourished (BMI 18.5-20.0), 15.5% overweight (BMI 25-30) and 4.3% obese (BMI>30). Although anemia prevalence was lowest in the overweight women (32.0%), the difference with the other groups (42.5%-51.7%) was not statistical significant. Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency did not differ between the BMI categories, with for example the prevalence of severe zinc deficiency (plasma zinc <0.70mmol/L) ranging from 20.4% in the overweight to 31.7% in the undernourished women or of marginal vitamin A status (RBP<1.05mmol/L) ranging from 10.6% in the overweight women to 4.2% in the malnourished women (all p>0.05).
Micronutrient deficiencies affect all Cambodian women, regardless of overall nutritional status. Strategies are needed that target the whole population. Emphasis on quality rather quantity of food items is urgently needed.