Food Survey Shows Areas of Concern,
Opportunities for Nutrition Interventions By
In a recent study by the Agricultural Research Service and
cooperators, researchers were surprised to find that children in the low-income
Lower Mississippi Delta region have diets similar to those of children surveyed
in a national study.
Delta residents suffer unusually high occurrences of obesity,
heart disease, strokes, cancer, low birth weight and high infant mortality
rates. Diets that lack variety and are high in fatty foods may increase the
risk of nutrition-related chronic disease for residents in the Delta region.
The latest finding is part of the ongoing Lower Mississippi
Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative (Delta
NIRI), which ARS established in 1995 to remedy the lack of research into
the dietary habits of the high-risk population bordering the Mississippi River
in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Delta NIRI has teamed with six institutions of higher learning
to form the Lower Mississippi Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Consortium.
Researchers from ARS and several consortium institutions reported the findings
in a recent issue of the Journal of the
American Dietetic Association.
The published study also found that food and nutrient intakes
for African American adults in the Delta were, in general, worse than whites',
according to Margaret Bogle, Delta NIRI's executive director. Nutrient intakes
of children did not differ by race. Poor nutrient intakes were also associated
with low income.
According to Bogle, the relatively better quality of children's
diets in the Delta might reflect the importance of nutrition assistance
programs, because the rate of participation in national school lunch and
breakfast programs is high in the Delta. Evaluations of these programs have
shown favorable effects on children's diets.
A telephone survey collected food intake data from a
representative sample of households in 36 lower Delta counties. Findings from
the Foods of Our Delta Study are helping ARS researchers evaluate the
nutritional health of the residents, identify nutritionally responsive problems
and design and evaluate interventions to address the problems. Once
interventions are in place, additional surveys will monitor change in diet and
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.