209311 Factors affecting malnutrition in twelve mayan communities surrounding Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Monday, November 9, 2009: 1:30 PM

Paul Kadetz, PhD, MSN, MPH , Department of International Development, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
This research investigated the reasons why, after more than fifty years of health and nutritional interventions, values on health and nutritional indicators for Guatemala reflect some of the poorest values in the Western Hemisphere, with some of the least variance in annual change. This research attempted to identify all factors affecting malnutrition in twelve indigenous communities surrounding Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, at community, municipality, and NGO levels. Nutritional as well as activity level community assessments were conducted in order to address the epidemiologic and nutritional transitions reflected in the concurrent undernutrition and overnutrition, simultaneously presenting with a prevalence of both infectious and chronic diseases in this population.

210 surveys with indigenous Guatemalans in twelve communities surrounding Lake Atitlan, Guatemala were conducted. These surveys assessed the practices, preferences, and perceptions of indigenous Guatemalans regarding nutrition and activity. 50 indigenous Guatemalan informants provided free lists. 50 indigenous and non-indigenous community members, NGO representatives, and Municipal officials participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews. In addition to these methodologies anthropometry, participant observation, nutritional environment analysis, pile sorts, and positive deviance analysis were utilised. Data was analysed with SPSS, ethnograph, and anthropac.

The research demonstrates that both microlevel factors such as community preferences for, and perceptions of, healthy food and activity were instrumental factors in community health & nutrition, in conjunction with macrolevel factors, from municipalities and NGOs, of appropriate and completed projects that benefited community health and nutrition and facilitated community participation and sustainability. This research contributes to a political ecological approach in addressing complex health issues due to a myriad of factors at various levels. The data from this study is being used by a local university to design a research centre for food security for the region.

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the different levels of factors affecting malnutrition in indigenous Guatemala. Explain the value of a political ecology approach to long-term malnutrition for a given population. Analyze the importance of cooperation, communication, and coordination at all levels affecting malnutrition in order to reduce malnutrition.

Keywords: International Public Health, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the Principal Investigator of this research for which I received University of Oxford Institutional Review Board (CUREC) approval.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.