Consumption of Potentially Fortifiable Foods by Women and Young Children Varies by Ecological Zone and Socio-Economic Status in Cameroon1-3

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Abstract

In preparation for a proposed large-scale food fortification program in Cameroon, we completed a nationally representative, cross-sectional, cluster survey to assess the consumption patterns of four potentially fortifiable foods (refined vegetable oil, wheat flour, sugar, and bouillon cube) by women and children. Thirty clusters were randomly chosen in each of three ecologic zones (south, north, and large cities) and 10 households (HH) per cluster were selected, each with a child 12-59 mo old and a primary female caregiver 15-49 y old (total 1002 HH). Blood samples were collected and food consumption was assessed by FFQ and 24-h dietary recall. Anemia (39% of women, 58% of children) and deficiencies of iron (15-32%, 21-70%), zinc (77%, 70%), vitamin A (22%, 35%), and vitamin B-12 (28%, 27%) were common, especially in the north and among HH with lower socio-economic status (SES). Oil was consumed by 54% of HH, whereas >75% of HH consumed wheat flour, sugar, and bouillon cube. For most foods, coverage was lower among HH with lower SES. On average, oil, wheat flour, and sugar were consumed once per day and bouillon cube was consumed twice per day. Median intakes of oil, wheat flour, sugar, and bouillon cube (among consumers) were 19.8, 79.4, 30.0, and 1.9 g/d for women and 12.0, 49.4, 19.4, and 0.9 g/d for children, respectively. Food consumption patterns of high risk population subgroups must be considered, along with technical feasibility and cost, for the selection of appropriate vehicles for food fortification. J. Nutr. 142: 555-565, 2012.

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