In order to develop the nutritional status of our community, we need to fully understand the term of nutritional status. This is what will help us avoid getting diseases regarding malnutrition and make our communities healthier. Let’s go through the nutritional status of our communities and how to improve it.
• Nutritional status:
Nutritional status expresses the degree to which the physiological needs for nutrients are being met. A through assessment of nutritional status includes:
1) Dietary surveys: through food frequency questionnaire, 24-hour recall for qualitative or quantitative estimation of food consumption and compare it with individual needs.
National estimation of food consumption:
food balance sheet = food production + food imports – food exports. The result is divided by the mid-year population and days of the year to get the average supply of food/ capita/ day.
2) Anthropometric data: Anthropometric indices that include height and weigh are used to estimate growth especially in children.
3) History and physical examination: This is used for general built and manifestations of deficiency.
4) Laboratory investigations: Several lab investigations are done including blood hemoglobin, serum vitamin and minerals levels.
5) Statistical indices: There are a lot of important statics but the most important rates are infant mortality and prevalence of low birth weight.
6) Demographic and socio-economic data: These data are useful indirect indicators of nutritional risk in community.
• How to improve the nutritional status of the community?
These are the main points to make the nutritional status of the community better:
1. Assessing and monitoring of nutrition situations.
A. Identify the priority nutritional problems in the community and analyze their causes.
B. Strengthen growth monitoring within primary health care system.
2. Food sanitation: throughout the production, handling, Processing, packaging, distribution and preparation stages. This food should follow the international standards to be approved by the ministry of health in the states. The process of production should be done perfectly and the factories should be checked regularly.
3. Preventing and managing parasitic diseases as they are on the top list of diseases causing nutritional problems.
4. Food supplementation for the socio-economically deprived people.
5. Micronutrients can be added to certain foods in order to increase nutritive value as follow:
A. Enriched food: Flour and bread can be enriched by adding standard values of certain nutrients. Iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin are added to compensate amounts lost while milling white flour from the whole grain.
B. Food fortification: Fortification of food helps in adding certain nutrients originally lacking in the food. These are the most common two examples.
1) Fortification of salt is a long-range measure for correcting iodine deficiency.
2) Milk may be also fortified with Vitamin D, taking into consideration that food additions must be submitted to controlled limitation.
6. Nutrition education:
A. Face to face approach through home visits, lectures, group discussion demonstration and role play methods.
B. Mass Media through school curricula starting from primary school, posters, TV and booklets.
This is the ultimate guide to understand the nutritional status of the community. Following these points will help those who are seeking a better nutritional status to reach their goals.