By sequential random numbering 10 schools in greater Winnipeg were selected for a nutrition survey. Interviews were conducted with 201 grade 3 children and 182 grade 6 children for whom parental consent was obtained. Of these, 48 in grade 3 and 51 in grade 6 were studied in further detail. There were no differences in descriptive data between the general and detailed groups or among the 10 schools. Most fathers were skilled or unskilled labourers and about 50% of the mothers were homemakers without outside employment; parental occupation did not influence eating patterns. Breakfast was the meal most often missed; 8% of the 383 children had come to school without breakfast. Since many children in grade 3 had prepared their own breakfast and since there was a relative lack of physical activity, school health programs should incorporate more than nutritional supplements and nutrition education. On the basis of body weight and height the nutritional status of the 99 children studied in detail was judged to be generally satisfactory; according to the Boston standards the boys were heavy and tall, and the girls were normal in weight but short.
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Using a cross-sectional survey, to investigate the vitamin D status of a random sample of 80 mother-child pairs (child age 3-24 months) in a Manitoba community with a high incidence of rickets.
A questionnaire on feeding habits, gestational history, maternal diet and vitamin supplements was administered to mothers in their homes with the assistance of a local interpreter. Venous blood was collected from both mother and child for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.
Of 91% babies initially breastfed, 36% received no formula or milk after weaning and 40% received no vitamin supplements. 24% of mothers took no vitamin supplements during pregnancy and lactation. Knowledge about rickets was poor. In 43% of children and 76% of mothers, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were below normal range.
Vitamin D levels are low in this population due to lack of fortified dairy products and vitamin D supplements. A public health program should include counseling on rickets and vitamin D supplementation for all infants and pregnant or lactating women.
The total dietary intake of energy and of individual nutrients of 99 grades 3 and 6 children from 10 greater Winnipeg shcools were generally comparable to those reported by Nutrition Canada for the Manitoba and national samples, although the percentile distributions of total caloric intake and dietary intake of vitamin A for the Winnipeg children tended to be lower. The median daily intake of protein was 212% of the Canadian Dietary Standard and most came from animal sources. Dietary fat was largely from animal sources as well. Hemoglobin concentrations were marginally low in four children, and urinary riboflavin:creatinine ratios were low in six children. There was no biochemical evidence of thiamin deficiency. The results suggest a need for change in dietary patterns and for education in nutrition, including relative nutrient/cost benefits. A well planned school snack program with an education component is a medium by which change could be introduced. This should preferable be part of a total school health program.
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