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Nutrition and Health (including climate and ecological aspects)

Indigenous vegetables: a sustainable approach to improve micronutrient adequacy in Tanzanian women of childbearing age



Increasing dietary diversity is a viable strategy for addressing micronutrient malnutrition in women of childbearing age (WCA) from low-income countries. Recently, it has been demonstrated that some indigenous vegetables (IV) with high nutrient density may help to ameliorate micronutrient’s intake. The Minimum Dietary Diversity index for Women (MDD-W) could be considered as a proxy to describe one important dimension of women’s diet quality. This cross-sectional study aimed at exploring aspects contributing to micronutrients adequacy in Tanzanian WCA, with a focus on IV consumption and other socio-demographic factors.


Data collection was conducted among urban and peri-urban women in Arusha city, Tanzania. Socio-demographic factors were collected using a structured interview. Information on IV consumption and MDD-W calculation were obtained using a 24-h recall.


One-hundred and forty-one women aged 14–49 years were interviewed. Sixteen per cent of the sample consumed at least one portion of IV/day. The total median MDD-W was 4.0 (IQR. 3.0–5.0) and it was adequate in the 44% of the sample. Women who consumed IV had MDD-W 0.66 points (95% CI: 0.02–1.30, p = 0.046) higher than those who did not; consuming IV had an odds ratio of more than three times concerning women not consuming IV (OR: 3.30, 95% CI: 1.24–8.81, p = 0.017).


The IV consumption is positively associated with micronutrient adequacy and its absence from the diet can be an indicator of micronutrient deficiencies in vulnerable people such as WCA. For that reason, this study suggests that IV consumption may improve micronutrient deficiency in WCA.

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The authors are very grateful to Dr Silvia Maffoni for the help in the data collection and to Dr Marco Gnesi for the statistical consultation.


Study approval was granted by the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA). To facilitate the research function, the Vice-Chancellor of the SUA was empowered to issue research clearance to staff, students, research associate and researchers of SUA on behalf of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Registration number: DPRTC/R/142 Val. II/10) within the ‘Sustainable Agri-Food Systems Strategies (SASS)’ project, funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR) (Fondo Integrativo Speciale per la Ricerca, FISR; CUP: H42F16002450001).

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Each author has participated actively in the work and has given substantial contribution. MVC, RDG, AGM, NHM and HC conceived and designed the work that led to the submission; MVC, AGM and NHM acquired data; MCM, MVC and RDG played a role in the statistical analysis; all the authors were involved in interpreting the results; MVC, RDG and MCM drafted the manuscript; SC, JM and HC revised the manuscript. All the authors agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. Each author has read and approved the final submitted manuscript.

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Correspondence to Maria Vittoria Conti.

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Conti, M.V., De Giuseppe, R., Monti, M.C. et al. Indigenous vegetables: a sustainable approach to improve micronutrient adequacy in Tanzanian women of childbearing age. Eur J Clin Nutr 75, 1475–1482 (2021).

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