To assess the adequacy and variability of the diet served to Tarahumara children in indigenous boarding schools.
Records of food and drinks served for meals, weighed daily, were obtained from Monday through Friday for 10 consecutive weeks in two selected boarding schools. Nutrient intake for Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays was calculated and analyzed for weeks 3, 5 and 7.
The number of food items used per week ranged from 33 to 46. The most frequently utilized items were cooking oil, fortified corn tortilla, milk, onion, sugar and beans. Total energy served per day fluctuated between 1309 and 2919 Kcal; proteins comprised 10.5 to 21.2% (45 to 127 g/day), carbohydrates 40.7 to 61.9% (145 to 433 g/day), and lipids 22.5 to 48.1% (45 to 125 g/day) of the total. Daily micronutrient content ranges were: iron 15-33 mg, calcium 686-1795 mg, zinc 8-19 mg, vitamin A 118-756 mcg, vitamin B(9) 42-212 mcg, and vitamin B(12) 0.8-5 mcg.
There was significant daily variability in the diet, which was hypercaloric due to the high lipid content, and yet insufficient in vitamins B(9), B(12) and A.