Objective and setting: A nationwide study was performed in Cuba to assess vitamin A status and the intake of vitamin-A-providing foods in children aged 6-11 years. Design and subjects: The sample comprised 1191 schoolchildren from first to sixth grade, both sexes, from municipalities randomly selected from the five eastern provinces of Cuba in 2002 (first semester) and from the four western and four central provinces in 2003 (first semester). A food-frequency questionnaire was completed by 2038 mother-and-child pairs. Results: Mean (±standard deviation) plasma retinol concentrations were 1.77 ± 0.48 μmol l-1 in the western, 2.01 ± 0.56 μmol l -1 in the central and 1.40 ± 0.41 μmol l-1 in the eastern region. No child had plasma retinol concentration below 0.35 μmol l-1, indicative of a high risk of clinical deficiency. Subclinical deficiency, plasma retinol concentration of 0.35-0.7 μmol l-1, was seen in <2% of subjects in all three regions and was <5% even in the two provinces with the worst vitamin A status (Guantánamo, 4.6%; Las Tunas, 3.0%). Adequate status (>1.05 μmol l-1) was present in >90% of subjects in all western and central provinces, and in one of the eastern provinces (Holguín), whereas in the four remaining eastern provinces, adequate status was present in >75%. Only nine fruits and vegetables were consumed frequently (>3 times per week) by >50% of children. Thirty-seven per cent regularly consumed a supplement containing vitamin A. Conclusions: Most Cuban children aged 6-11 years had adequate vitamin A status. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin and provitamin A, especially vegetables, was frequent but limited to a small variety of foods.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Nutrition and Dietetics
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health