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Dietary intake in asylum seeker children in The Netherlands, strongly related to age and origin

Abstract

Objective:

To monitor the dietary intake of energy, macro- and micronutrients in asylum seeker children.

Design and setting:

Cross-sectional study in three asylum seeker centres in The Netherlands.

Subjects:

Hundred and sixteen children 2–12 years old (86% of the study cohort) provided a dietary history.

Method:

The dietary intake was estimated by 24 h recall, and the origin of the children was classified in three geographic regions: African (n=45), Central Asia (n=34) or Eastern Europe (n=37).

Results:

The total energy intake from fat was in 24% of the children above 40En%. Seventy per cent of the children above 4 year of age had a saturated fat intake above 10En%. The children from Eastern Europe had a higher intake of fat and disaccharides than the children from the other regions. Among the children, an intake less than 80% of the recommended daily allowances of micronutrients was found for calcium (42%), iron (49%), vitamin A (45%) and vitamin D (80%). An inadequate dietary intake of iron and vitamin D was significantly more seen among the youngest children, whereas an inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin A was found more among the elder children.

Conclusions:

The dietary intake of a prominent proportion of these children contains too much fat and insufficient amounts of calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin D. The low micronutrient intake of the asylum seeker children can be considered as a nutritional risk. Nutritional education and strategies to improve the macro- and micronutrient intake of asylum seeker children is indicated.

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Acknowledgements

This paper is product of a study supported by the Medical Organisation Asylum Seekers North Netherlands. We are especially grateful to Mrs T de Vries, dietitian, who took all dietary interviews and to Professor Dr HJ Verkade for his comments on earlier scripts. Competitive interests: None declared.

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Correspondence to A A M Stellinga-Boelen.

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Guarantor: CMA Bijleveld.

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Stellinga-Boelen, A., Wiegersma, P. & Bijleveld, C. Dietary intake in asylum seeker children in The Netherlands, strongly related to age and origin. Eur J Clin Nutr 61, 104–110 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602501

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602501

Keywords

  • asylum seeker children
  • dietary intake
  • micronutrients

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