This study assesses the nutritional status and traditional foods of indigenous people in two communities in Abia State. As a result of the high rate of food insecurity within the indigenous people, local food resources required investigation to identify food use. Secondly to develop food based strategies to combat malnutrition. The study also assesses some indigenous foods with a focus on their seasonality and attributes in two communities in Abia State. It determines the food consumption pattern of Igbo people in these two communities. It also studies food preparation and micronutrient rich foods commonly consumed among indigenous people and finally determines the nutritional status of children between 0-12 years using anthropometric measurement in the communities.
Two hundred households (one hundred from each community) were randomly selected from lists of households in the communities selected for this purpose of the study. Structured and validated questionnaire developed by the Global Health Research Group from McGill University, Canada was modified to the community setting and was used to collect information on the traditional food list. Information on macronutrient rich foods, the kind and duration of milk fed to the children and the age of introduction of complementary foods were obtained.

The result shows that traditional foods have medicinal, nutritional and socio-cultural values. The study also shows that starchy staples are important in the diet of Ohuhu and Ohiya communities in Abia State. They consume the staples in various forms at least once daily. Crayfish, dried and ice fish are main sources of protein and the quantity consume is a function of one's income. Traditional food systems of indigenous people contain a wealth of micronutrient that have been poorly described and reported in scientific literature. This lack of scientific coverage prevents the information from being included in health training programmes. Fifteen percent (15%) of mothers exclusively breastfed their babies for varying lengths of time. Majority of the mothers breastfed for one year, however, some women continued for two years to meet with the WHO standards. The findings from weighed food intake show that traditional foods provide over 80% of calorie, protein, vitamin, thiamin riboflavin, niacin and ascorbic acid for 0-2 years, 3-5 years and 6-12 years. It confirms that indigenous people prefer to consume traditional food to imported foods. About one percent (1%) of 0-2 years old children in Ohuhu were wasted. Two children (0.5%) and six children (3%) were stunted and underweight respectively. Most malnourished children appeared to be normal to their parents until their weight/height and weight-for-age were compared with expected indicators, respectively. It was observed that in Ohiya, 1% of 0-2 years olds were wasted. Two children (0.5%) were stunted and underweight respectively. There is a significant positive relationship between (P<0 .05="" and="" food="" indigenous="" nutritional="" of="" people.="" span="" status="" the="" traditional="">


Title Page
List of Figures
List of Tables

1.1       Background information
1.2       Statement of problem
1.3       General objective of the study
1.3.1    Specific objectives
1.4       Significance of the study

2.1       Introduction
2.2       Brief history of Igbo cultural area
2.3       Food consumption and preparation patterns common among the indigenous people
2.4       Cultural factors
2.5       Deforestation and habitat
2.6       The indigenous food list, their seasonality and their attributes among different age groups
2.7       Micro nutrient status of the Igbo people
2.7.1    Socio-cultural benefits/importance
2.8       Culture as it relates to indigenous people's food and its benefits
2.9       Traditional indigenous food as it relates to life and health
2.9.1    Labour shortage and other factors
2.10     Constraint to use of indigenous foods
2.10.1 Contaminants in tradition al foods
2.10.2 Lack of transportation and storage facilities
2.10.3 Accidents when harvesting traditional food

3.1       Area of study
3.2       Sample Size
3.3       Study population
3.4       Approach to the people
3.5       Training o f personnel
3.5.1    Key informant interviews
3.5.2    Focus group discussions
3.6       Individual interviews
3.6.1    Card sorts
3.6.2    Questionnaire
3.7       Anthropometry
3.7.1    Weight
3.7.2    Height
3.8       Weight food intake
3.9       Nutrient analysis of traditional foods
3.10    Analysis of data from the questionnaire

4.1       Focus group discussion (FGD)
4.1.1    Preference of traditional to modern foods
4.1.2    Cultural and health attributes of some traditional foods according to focus group discussion
4.1.3    Traditional belief about certain foods consumed in these communities
4.1.4    Extinct traditional foods
4.1.5    Food related diseases among the communities
4.1.6    Leisure time activities
4.1.7    Degree of consumption and family size
4.2       Dietary intake
4.3       Consumption of key micronutrient rich foods
4.4       General interview
4.5       Infant feeding practices among the two indigenous communities
4.6       Anthropometric measurements of infants of the two communities Understudy
4.7       Nutrient analysis of traditional foods
4.8       Weighed food intake

5.1       Focus group discussion
5.2       Common dishes consumed by indigenous people of Ohuhu and Ohiya and their methods of food preparation
5.3       24 - Hours dietary recall
5.4       Consumption of key micronutrient rich foods
5.5       General Interview
5.6       Infant feeding practices
5.7       Nutritional status of the children 0-12 years
5.8       Proximate composition of some indigenous foods
5.9       Weighed food intake
5.10     Conclusion
5.11     Recommendations



1.1         Background Information of the Study

Although world food supplies are relatively plentiful today, the rate of malnutrition is still very high. About a million people are hungry worldwide and numbers are still increasing, women and children being the worst hit (Parks, 1997). The number of malnourished people increased from 400 million in 1960, 455 million in 1970 to 800 million in 2000.

Malnutrition has been dubbed the world’s "silent emergency", a condition leading to death and disability on a vast scale, particularly among children and women of child bearing age. Malnutrition destroys lives by compromising health, learning, productivity, curiosity, incentive and hope. Malnutrition endangers social and economic cost that cripples the development of individuals communities and nation.

In 2002, Food and Nutritional Policy was lunched as an effort of the government to address the issue of food insecurity. In Nigeria, one of the objectives was to promote production, consumption and utilization of indigenous foods. Indigenous foods have met with success to correct various forms of malnutrition. Kuhnlein (2003), shows that indigenous foods are culturally acceptable, affordable and readily available to the people.
Indigenous people refers to a cultural group in a particular ecological area that developed a successful subsistence base from the natural resources available (Kuhnlein, 2003). Universally, within communities of indigenous people, there is a knowledge of natural resources that influences food environment utilized for optimal nutrition (Kuhnlein, 2003). The diet of many indigenous people has changed over time due to a wide availability of alternative foods, as well as changing perceptions and values of food. In Nigeria, indigenous people have a potential loss of knowledge of our nutritious traditional foods and practices due to a lack of use by the younger generation and also the gradual loss of older people who knew much about these indigenous and traditional foods. This trend leads led to the youth imbibing western culture/values. This compounds the already existing nutritional problems within the population. Poor micro nutrient intake and malnutrition are consequences of nutrition transition (WHO, 2003).
Indigenous people need empowerment through the preservation, protection and revitalization of their culture. The culture has been eroded by colonization, western culture and more recently globalization. An assessment of the traditional foods of the people would therefore assist in understanding the indigenous/traditional food uses and advantages.

1.2        Statement of Problem

Many species of both plants and animals are threatened with extinction due to environmental degradation. Indigenous people's environment worldwide is equally disrupted and destroyed. Some economic, agricultural and health/nutritional conditions of these people depended on their local food sources. Indigenous people have a good and rich knowledge of foods that ensure maintenance of good nutritional status. Unfortunately, there is a threat to loss of this knowledge due to poor use by young members of the society and the elders who knew and used these foods are gradually on the verge of extinction. Indigenous people have been recognized to have a good knowledge of natural resources especially of unique food species, which can be used to attain optimal nutrition and have been said to have up to ninety-nine (99%) of global biodiversity (Kuhnlein, 2003). Social and economic changes are threatening the use and propagation of this knowledge thus worsening further the food insecurity plaguing the indigenous people.
There is need to protect these food sources by all mankind (Okeke, Mba and Nwosu 1998). Over the years, food supply has increasingly fallen short of the total food demand. This led to a decline in productivity and is worsened by an uncontrolled population growth or escalation. Food importation has been the only way the government has tried to supplement the increasing food shortage. Unfortunately, our markets became flooded with commercially prepackage foods. The production and consumption of most appropriate traditional foods for human beings were underutilized. This led to increased consumption of refined foods. The use of these processed foods has been associated with poor micronutrient intake and development of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease (FAO, 1997).

Advertisement is one of the consequences of industrialization. It has changed dietary habits, promoted the consumption of unnecessary food items and provided misleading information to people. As a result of the high rate of food insecurity within the indigenous people, local traditional food resources need investigation to identify foods for use to develop food based strategies to combat malnutrition. Not much has been done in assessing nutritional status and traditional foods of indigenous people.

1.3        General Objective of the Study

The general objective is to assess the nutritional status and traditional foods of indigenous people in two communities in Abia State, Nigeria.

1.3.1    Specific Objectives were to:

1.                assess indigenous foods, their seasonality and attributes in two communities in Abia State, Nigeria

2.                determine the food consumption pattern of indigenous people in these two communities.

3.                study food preparation and micronutrient rich foods commonly consumed among the indigenous people.

4.                determine nutritional status of children 0-12 years old using anthropometric / measurements in the communities.

1.4        Significance of the Study
Indigenous people are the most disenfranchised and poorest members of the larger society (Kuhnlein, 2003). They are targeted by most governments for health promotion and development which are of public health significance. There is usually much poverty within this group and social amenities provided by government for high quality of life are either lacking or are of poor quality in their communities.

The present study is a major endeavour to create awareness and thus promote the survival of indigenous foods and culture. Much work has not been done on documentation of indigenous foods of Igbo cultural societies. This would add to the.....

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