Antigua and Barbuda
Very little recent national information is available on anthropometric measurements for children in Antigua and Barbuda. The latest available figures show that the level of undernutrition (weight for age) among children less than one year old was 1.4% in 1995, a decrease from the 1993 level of 2.3%. For children 1-4 years old, the level remained almost constant, 0.6% - 0.8% over the period 1993-1995, while among the wider age group, 0-5 years, there was a decline of 0.3% between 1996 and 1999. The prevalence of overweight (weight for age) among children, less than one year old, was higher than that for underweight. It fluctuated during the period 1993-1995, increasing overall from 7.4% to 8.5%. Among children 1-4 years, there was a slight decline between 1993 and 1995 (from 2.8% to 2.5%). Between 1997 and 1998 the prevalence of overweight decreased among children 0-5 years from 6.6% t0 5.8 %. A 1993 Ministry of Health survey found that the national prevalence of obesity (BMI: > 30) was 4.6%. Among persons 40 years and over, 60% men and 25% women were obese. No recent anthropometric data were available on adolescents in Antigua and Barbuda.
Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common micronutrient deficiency in Antigua and Barbuda. The prevalence, in 1996, among children 1-4 years was 49.4% (PAHO/CFNI,1997), with the highest prevalence among children 2 years old. No data were available on the prevalence of anaemia among older children or for other population groups, including pregnant women. Given the common consumption of non-haeme foods (cereals, pulses, vegetables and fruits) coupled with the relatively low level of haeme-iron foods consumed by children in particular, the level of iron deficiency present may have dietary origins. The micronutrient study also showed that, although marginal levels of vitamin A deficiency exist, vitamin A deficiency is not a public health concern (1.1% of children 1-4 years were deficient).
No national surveys on food consumption have been carried out in Antigua and Barbuda that could explain the nutritional status of the adults and children. The increase in the contribution of fat to the dietary energy supply (DES) along with the general increase in DES between 1980 and 1997 may provide a part of the explanation.
The extent to which the nutritional problems facing the country can be attributed to the economic situation is not certain. The high per capita GNP relative to most other Caribbean countries may be resulting in increased spending per capita on food, and may be contributing to the level of obesity. No data are available on the level of poverty in the country, and hence the proportion of the population that is vulnerable to insufficient nutrient intake cannot be accurately determined. Those that are unemployed are likely to be at risk for undernutrition, especially the children in these households.