Culture, Environment, and Food to Prevent Vitamin A Deficiency

Table of contents

Harriet V. Kuhnlein and Gretel H. Pelto

Centre for Nutrition and the Environment of Indigenous Peoples (CINE)
Macdonald Campus of McGill University
21,111 Lakeshore Road
Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec,
Canada H9X 3V9
Fax: (514) 398-1020
Tel: (514) 398-7757

This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada

(c) Copyright 1997 International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries (INFDC)


Published jointly by the

International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries
P.O. Box 500, Charles Street Station
Boston, MA 02114-0500 USA

and the

International Development Research Centre
P.O. Box 8500
Ottawa, ON, Canada KIG 3HO

(c) Copyright 1997 International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries (INFDC)

The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this document do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries (INFDC) or the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city, or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this document.

INFDC ISBN 0-9635522-7-9
IDRC ISBN 0-88936-768-X

U.S. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication (CIP) Data Applied for.
Canadian Cataloging-in-Publication (CIP) Data Applied for.

Cover Photography (clockwise from top left:): Preparing the staple porridge in Filingué, Niger; Buying leafy vegetables from a street vendor in China; Sweet potato vines commonly eaten by Aetas, in Philippines; Key-informant interview in progress in Chamis, Peru; Pile sort using actual foods in Sheriguda, India.

The digitalization of this publication was made possible by a grant from the Nestlé Foundation




Contributing authors

Part I. Vitamin A in food and diets

1. Vitamin A and food: The current situation

Overview: What this book is about
The Vitamin A situation
Proposed solutions to the problem
Focused ethnography to understand local culture and environment for Vitamin A programs
The structure of this book

2. The complexities of understanding Vitamin A in food and diets: The problem

Overview of natural Food sources of Vitamin A
Vitamin A food composition data
Effect of food processing on Vitamin A
Food composition tables for Vitamin A
Assessment of dietary Vitamin A intake
Dietary Vitamin A intake patterns
Other dietary and health factors influencing Vitamin A status
Programs that improve intake of Vitamin A-rich food

Part II. Creating the protocol

3. Theory and process: The methods

The International Union of Nutritional Sciences, committee on nutrition and anthropology
Theory of the methodological approach
Overview of methods of data-collection described in the protocol manual
Testing the protocol

Part III. Assessing natural food sources of Vitamin A in the community

4. The Philippines: The Aetas Canawan during wet and dry seasons

The Vitamin A problem in the Philippines
The Aetas of Canawan, Morong
The Aeta's way of life
Concepts of food and deficiency
Factors affecting food intake
A typical meal
Suggested dietary modifications

5. Community assessment of natural food sources of Vitamin A in Niger: The hausas of Filingué

Background discussion of Niger
Food sources of Vitamin A
Meal patterns and food utilization
Cultural beliefs about Vitamin A-rich foods
Vitamin A deficiency
Summary and recommendations

6. China: The people of Doumen Village, Kai Feng Municipality, Henan Province

Background and introduction
Eating Vitamin A-rich vegetable food
Cultural beliefs regarding key foods
Food patterns
Food preparation

7. Peru: The rural community of Chamis and the urban suburb of San Vicente in Cajamarca

Overview of the location
Food sources of Vitamin A
Principal differences between Chamis and San Vicente
Family and individual food patterns
Feeding patterns by age gender
Vitamin A-rich food patterns
Cultural beliefs
Vitamin A and health
Summary and conclusions
Policy recommendations
Recommendations for research

8. India: The rural community of Sheriguda in Andhra Pradesh

Team members and task
Current status of the problem
Study population
Community food sources
Food consumption pattern
Cultural/ecological pattern
Summary and policy strategies

Part IV. Understanding Vitamin A deficieny in the community

9. The contexts of culture, environment, and food

Overall performance of the protocol
Keys to finding local community food sources to prevent Vitamin A deficiency: What foods are available and how much vitamin a do they contain?
Keys to understanding consumption patterns of vulnerable groups
Keys to beliefs and perceptions about food
Keys to cultural, ecological and socioeconomic factors that constrain consumption of Vitamin A-rich food and prevention of deficiency
Keys to explanations and understandings of Vitamin A deficiency symptoms
Looking to the next steps: From ethnography to intervention design