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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Letter to Editor: A Study of Dietary Intake and Nutritional Status of Under Five Children in Slums of Kolkata City

Author(s): SP Mitra

Vol. 32, No. 1 (2007-01 - 2007-03)

During the last fifty years India’s urban population has increased many folds. With rapid urbanization and population explosion about one fifth of the urban population is forced to reside in slums(1). The present study was under taken on such a socio economic and culturally under privileged group, under five children of slums in Kolkata with the objective to find out the dietary intake and nutritional status of under five children of slums of Kolkata city.

The study was conducted on 540 under five children of urban slums of Kolkata Municipal area The sample size was decided on the basis 75% prevalence rate of malnutrition in slums and 5% permissible error in the estimate1. The total area of Kolkata city was divided into four zones namely east, west, south and north. The names of all the slums were listed and numbered. Two slums were selected from each zone by using simple random number. Now 540 under five children were selected from these eight slums by using simple random number. Age of the child was elicited either from the certificate of birth, whenever available or asking the mother about the date of birth with the help of local calendar. Weight was measured with Salter’s apparatus and standard weighing machine with zero adjustment each time according to age of the child. Weight of each child was plotted on ICDS growth chart and thus grading was done. Information about dietary intake was elicited by ‘24 hours recall method’ preferably by interviewing the mothers. Nutritive value of foods were calculated in terms of calories and proteins and other micro nutrients by taking values from ‘Nutritive value of Indian Food’(2). Pre-designed and pre-tested proforma was used to collect the data. Appropriate statistical test was applied for analysis of the data.

It was found that only 38.9% of the under five children were within the normal limit while 61.1% were in different grades of malnutrition. 2% of them were suffering from Grade III and IV malnutrition together whereas 37.6% and 21.6% were in Grade I and II respectively.

Table 1: Intake of Nutrients by Study Subjects.

RDA (%) Protein
Vitamin A
>90 14 (2.6) 10(1.9) 23(4.3) 20(3.7)
89-70 110 (18.7) 25 (4.6) 28 (5.2) 208 (38.5)
69-50 369 (68.3) 67 (12.4) 36 (6.7) 101 (18.7)
<50 56 (10.4) 438 (81.1) 453(83.3) 211 (39.1)
Total 540 (100.0) 540(100.0) 540(100.0) 540 (100.0)

Calorie intake of more than 81% of under five pre-school children was below 50% of RDA and protein consumption was less than 70% of RDA in about 68% of study population. The picture was better in case of Vitamin A intake where it was found that more than 60 % of the under five children were getting more than 50% of RDA. In case of iron more than 80% of study population was consuming less than 50% of RDA.

Slum population in Kolkata thus demand urgent attention for Nutrition Programme.


  1. Misra RN, Nutritional status and dietary intake of pre-school children in urban slums of Varanasi. Indian Journal of Community Medicine. 2001; 26(2): 90-2.
  2. Gopalan C, Ramasastri BV & Balsubramium SC. Nutritive value of Indian Foods, National Institute of Nutrition, I.C.M.R. Reprint 1993.

SP Mitra
Deptt. of Community Medicine, Medical College, Kolkata.
Received: 14.10.04

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