Inadequate monotonous nutrition can lead to several deficiencies including micronutrients. Iron deficiency is one of the most prevalent micronutrients deficiencies in rural areas of Morocco that affect mainly women in child bearing age and children. Our study is an observational one aiming to evaluate the eating patterns and the iron status of school children living in rural region.
Children (n = 182) aged 7 to 9 years were recruited from rural primary schools. An adapted food frequency questionnaire was administered to the parents of the children to assess their dietary habits and blood samples collection was performed. Ferritin and CRP were assessed in serum using ELISA and nephelometry respectively.
The prevalence of iron deficiency (serum ferritine<15µg/L) in our population was 53%. Despite the fact that 75.4% of children consumed fruits, 74.6% legumes, 72.2% meat and 71.7% chicken at least once per week. Yet consumption of other products rich in iron or those stimulating its absorption was deficient such as liver, milk and dairy products. The consumption of iron absorption inhibitors was predominant with 98.3% of children consuming tea at least once per day.
The children in our study have an unbalanced diet with predominance of consumption of iron absorption inhibitors and deficient intake of foods rich in iron. This could be the cause of the high prevalence of iron deficiency in our sample. Key words: Iron deficiency – eating patterns – schoolchildren – rural.