Delta Dietary Studies Suggest Intervention Says LSU AgCenter Nutritionist

Heli J. Roy  |  3/17/2005 12:36:01 AM

Studies of one of the poorest regions of the country reveal more than national surveys.

Although studies like the National Nutrition and Health Examination Survey and the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) collect data on the general U.S. population, few surveys investigate dietary intake at regional, state or in rural areas, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Heli Roy.

Certain small regions have been under-represented in national surveys, Roy contends. One under-represented area is the Mississippi Delta region. Such omissions contribute to a tremendous disparity among ethnic groups over the extent of diet-related chronic diseases.

Traditionally agricultural, the Delta borders the Mississippi River in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi and is characterized by high poverty, low educational attainment and high prevalence of diet-related chronic diseases. Because of the nutritional inadequacies seen in the Lower Mississippi Delta, the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture was directed by Congress in 1994 to study the effects of nutrition intervention on the health of this population (U.S. Senate Report 103-290).

The Lower Mississippi Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative, a six-university consortium (two each in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), was established to conduct sustainable community-based nutrition interventions. ARS partnered with Alcorn State University in Mississippi, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Southern University in Louisiana, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the University of Southern Mississippi as part of the Lower Mississippi Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative (Delta NIRI).

The consortium surveyed the population for dietary intake and the results were published in "Foods of Our Delta Survey 2000 (Foods 2000)" published in the American Dietetic Association Journal in February 2004. Dr. Catherine Champagne from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and other investigators compared the results of the Foods 2000 data to national data from CSFII 1994-1996 and 1998.

The Lower Mississippi Delta Foods 2000 study included a higher percentage of females and blacks than the national CSFII study. There were no differences reported in energy and carbohydrate intakes compared to the national survey, but there was a significantly lower intake of fiber in all subjects compared to a national survey and significantly lower intake of protein in the black population.

The white population of the Delta region had significantly higher intake of fat and cholesterol and meat than blacks. The black population consumed significantly less energy, fiber and most all nutrients compared to the whites and the national survey.

Vitamin C intake was higher among blacks compared to the white population of the Delta but not compared to the national population. Delta blacks also had a lower intake of most nutrients and protein than the national representation of blacks.

Roy says some of the nutrients of concern are fiber, with about 80 percent of people having inadequate fiber intake, and vitamin E, with less than 10 percent of the population meeting the recommendations. Fruit, vegetable and dairy products consumption was lower than the national population and may be related to the high rates of hypertension in the region. Other research reports high intake of sweets, snack foods and high-fat meats in the Delta.

Because of all these factors, Roy says, nutrition intervention is needed, as is an affordable means of feeding families to meet the nutrient requirements of the population.

For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the Food and Health section of the LSU AgCenter Web site. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
Source: Heli Roy (225) 578-3329 or e-mail.

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