Nutritional Status Among School-Age Children of Bangladeshi Tea Garden Workers

Mohd Shamim Iqbal, Amanda C. Palmer, Jillian Waid, S. M.Mustafizur Rahman, Md M.Islam Bulbul, Tahmeed Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: While considerable progress has been made in reducing undernutrition in Bangladesh, regional disparities are known to exist, and certain population subgroups may lag behind. Objective: To characterize nutritional status among school-age children in a historically marginalized population of Bangladesh. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional assessment of children attending 14 nongovernmental organization-operated schools serving the tea estate population in Kulaura Upazila, Sylhet Division. We randomly selected 168 children from a population of 418 whose parents attended school-organized Parent–Teacher Association meetings. Parents provided consent and data on household food consumption in the past week, foods consumed by children in the past 24 hours, and household food insecurity. We drew venous blood from assenting children for the analysis of hemoglobin and plasma retinol, C-reactive protein, and α1-acid glycoprotein. Children were classified as stunted, underweight, or thin based on comparisons with the World Health Organization standards for height-for-age, weight-for-age, or body mass index-for-age, respectively. Results: Food insecurity was highly prevalent, with ∼85% of households affected. Roughly half of children had low dietary diversity. Prevalence estimates for stunting, underweight, and thinness were 32%, 50%, and 49%, respectively. Approximately 60% of children had a hemoglobin concentration <11 g/dL. The mean (±SD) plasma retinol concentration was 0.79 μmol/L (±0.23 μmol/L), with 34% deficient using a 0.70 μmol/L cutoff. Conclusions: A heightened focus on tracking progress in underserved populations and appropriately targeted programming will be critical as Bangladesh seeks to accelerate progress toward global development goals for nutrition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-429
Number of pages6
JournalFood and nutrition bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Bangladesh
  • anemia
  • school-age children
  • tea garden
  • vitamin A deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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