Of all countries in the world, Mongolia incurs the second highest age-standardized mortality rate attributable to dietary imbalances. This study sought to obtain nationwide data on food intake, nutrient intake, and nutrition status of Mongolian men and women, to identify gender differences that may highlight priorities for the design of emerging nutrition programs and policies.
A cluster random sample of 360 healthy male and female office workers and nomads aged 22-55 was drawn from 8 national provinces of Mongolia. During both summer and winter, a 3-day weighed diet record and blood draw were collected from each subject. Diet records were analyzed for food and nutrient intake using a purpose-built food composition table. Serum was analyzed for multiple micronutrients. Within different subgroups of the study population, distributions of food intake, nutrient intake, and nutritional status were estimated, as were the proportion of each subgroup deficient in intake and status of each assessed nutrient.
Significant differences in nutrition exist between men and women in Mongolia. Of particular note, women incur significantly lower vitamin D status than men, significantly higher consumption of candies and chocolates, and significantly lower consumption of folic acid (consumption of which is less than half that recommended by national dietary guidelines). Overall, dietary patterns of men and women revealed substantial gender differences within both urban and rural areas and within summer and winter.
Emerging nutrition policies in Mongolia may warrant gender-specific tailoring in order to most effectively curb the country’s large and growing burden of disease attributable to diet.