A survey was conducted to assess socio-economic disparity in the prevalence of anemia among schoolchildren (11-17 years) in few regions of Punjab. Two hundred and ten children from government schools of Punjab were selected and their blood hemoglobin levels were estimated; clinical examination was done for various signs/ symptoms of anemia; and dietary iron intake was analysed and compared with the recommended dietary allowances of ICMR (2010). Analysis of variance followed by Tukey's post-hoc test was applied to assess socio-economic disparity in the prevalence of anemia. Overall, 97% of the children were anemic, out of which 80 vs. 17% were moderately and mildly anemic, respectively. Statistically, no significant difference was found in the mean hemoglobin level of the subjects with respect to family income, parent’s education and religion, whereas, substantial disparity was noted with respect to caste. Scheduled caste subjects had the highest prevalence rate than general category and Backward Class and Other Backward Class subjects. Dietary iron intake of the children was grossly inadequate, ranging from 35 to 41% of the ICMR (2010) recommendations. Therefore, it can be established that anemia prevalence depends more on food habits and dietary behaviour of the children than on socio-economic factors. Dietary diversification should be canvassed at the root level, as anemia is likely the result of predominantly starch-based monotonous poor quality diets with minimal amounts of meat, vegetables and fruits.
Anemia, Punjab, School-children, Socio-economic
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