Scientists check nutrient intake of teenagers with simpler assessment toolThursday, July 05, 2012 07:22 AM Views : 251Richmond Q. Acosta
In the study, entitled, Dietary Diversity Score (DDS) as an Indicator of Nutritional Adequacy of Diets among 16-19-Year-Old, researchers got a glimpse on the diversity of food types and nutrients in the daily food consumption of teenagers.
Although many people think it is best to steer clear of certain kinds of food in order to avoid some types of diseases, researchers from the University of the Philippines – Manila (UPM) warned that doing so will restrict them from getting other beneficial nutrients that are also found in those foods. A diversified diet provides more nutrition to an individual. For instance, avoiding pork and beef to limit fat intake will curb consumption of protein and other important nutrients in the process.
The researchers explained, "Epidemiologic studies that established diet and disease causation have also focused on single nutrient and disease risk, despite the wide array of nutrients present in food. Nondiversified diet can have negative consequences on individual's health, well-being, and development, as this kind of diet is not likely to meet micronutrient requirements."
While assessing the dietary intake of an individual is important, many experts, however, expressed difficulty in gathering and analyzing data with the currently used assessment tools. The researchers lament, "Assessment of dietary intake at the individual level can be time consuming, tedious, and requires a high amount of technical skill both in data collection and analysis."
To provide a substitute to the current assessment tools, the UPM researchers tested the effectiveness of the DDS. College students, aged 16 to 19 year-old, from different universities in Manila, were asked about the food they ate in the last 24 hours. Average scores were taken based on the DDS, the nutrition adequacy ratio (NAR) and mean adequacy ratio (MAR). Results of DDS were compared to the results of MAR and NAR to confirm its accuracy.
Results of the study showed that majority of the teenagers' diet are not varied. The respondents have very limited intake of vitamin-A vegetable and tubers, organ meat and legumes in their diet as seen in the very low average DDS on these food groups. On the other hand, consumption of starchy staples, meat/fish/poultry and milk and milk products have the highest DDS. Less than 25% of the respondents have adequate intake of fruits. The researchers blamed the phenomenon on lack of diversity in the types of food that fast food chains offer that the teenagers patronize. They explained, "This is probably due to the typical consumption of fast food items like hamburger, pizza, etc., among adolescents."
DDS showed similar results as those in NAR and MAR, making it a good substitute for other nutritional assessment tools. They said, "DDS can be a good alternative for traditional dietary assessment tools in community settings or situations where quick assessments – not requiring highly skilled workers / trained dieticians to complete – are often required in the situation. Furthermore, DDS will also hasten the identification and households in greatest need."