The aim of this study was to identify elements that influence eating patterns intake and bioavailability of zinc.
Dietetic, descriptive, cross-sectional study. First, an inventory of available food sources of zinc in four municipalities of Huehuetenango was conducted, using this data a Food Frequency Questionnaire was prepared to identify consumption in 138 stunted 1-5 years children (<-2 SD Height for age), and a general survey, which inquired about: living conditions, food habits, anthropometry, micronutrient supplementation and disease prevalence. Translation to Spanish from the Mayan language "chuj" was required.
From 72 zinc food sources, 28 are locally available; 54% are classified low bioavailability, 7% high bioavailability. Consumption frequency of high bioavailability sources is low, while antagonist foods (maize preparations) are consumed 5 or more per week. 14.5% of the sample reached requirement of zinc, and 2.9% daily recommendation; 27% of the population received zinc supplement treatment in past 6 months. Prior interview 29.71% had diarrhoea and 45.65% respiratory infections.
The consumption of dietary sources of zinc is low, and most children are not receiving zinc supplementation for diarrheic and stunting problems even though these are in the national guidelines for diarrheic and stunting treatment. The daily intake of zinc does not cover the requirement in most children. High bioavailability food sources of zinc are few and not accessible or affordable for households. Given the inadequate intake of zinc a high incidence of diarrhoea and respiratory infections was found.