Trinidad & Tobago
The 1997-98 clinic data are suggesting that underweight prevalence among children 1-4 years is low (2.3%). There has been no significant change since 1988, when underweight was 2.2% for children 0-5 years. Stunting prevalence was also low (1.9%) while prevalence for wasting (6.2%) was moderate among children 0-5 years. Data from a 1976 survey showed a much higher prevalence of undernutrition, but the criterion used was different from that used in 1988-90.
From unpublished (1999) data, among adolescents 13-19 years only 4.6% were found to be overweight with a greater proportion of males than females. In addition, another 6.3% were at risk of becoming overweight with equal proportions between males and females.
While obesity may not be a problem among children and adolescents, among adults it is a cause for serious concern. In the adult population 20 years and older, 16.8% are obese, with the prevalence among women being almost twice as high as men. Another 31.4% of this population are overweight, the prevalence being slightly higher in women than in men. Approximately 6% of the adults suffer from chronic energy deficiency.
Iron appears to be the micronutrient deficiency of concern in Trinidad and Tobago. The most recent data relate mainly to pregnant women, and were mostly obtained from antenatal clinic records. The prevalence was 17.2% in 1990 (< 10g/dL), reflecting a steady increase since 1987. Wide variations were found at different clinics between 1973 and 1980. Lower prevalence levels, on average, were reported in 1979-1990 than in 1973-1978. The government supplementary program may account for the decrease. Among pregnant women who attended the Port of Spain general hospital in 1975-76, a greater proportion of East Indians than Africans was anaemic. Data for other vulnerable groups (lactating women, pre-school and school children) were not readily available. However, in 1989-90, of 457 first year
No recent national surveys on food consumption have been carried out in Trinidad and Tobago since 1970 that could help explain the nutritional status of the different age groups. The 3.2% increase in the contribution of fat to dietary energy supplies (DES) between 1964-66 and 1996-98, along with a reduction in the level of physical activity over the same period, may be contributing to the prevalence of overweight and obesity.
Among the Trinidad and Tobago population, approximately 22% were reported to be living below the poverty line in 1995, half of whom were classified as "extremely poor". This implies that economic access to food, especially among this group may be a major cause of the nutritional problems that they face. Children, the elderly, pregnant and lactating women in such households are among the most vulnerable to malnutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies.