The result indicated that the average score of HEI was 47.9. Among the participants who were categorized in groups, women between the age of 18 to 24 was below the average HEI score and this means that young women were not careful on what they taking regarding their diet. Therefore, most the young women had the highest probability of suffering from ID compared to the other groups of women. The other categories of age groups above the age of 25 had a HEI score above average overall HEI score. The above observation may be linked to lack of consumption of food rich in iron.
One of the main objectives of this study is to hypothesize that poor dietary was the primary cause of ID in young females. From the results in the ANOVA Tests Undertaken for Total HEI Scores and Each of the HEI in Table 3, the young females are noticed to have poor dietary compared to the other age groups. On the same note, it is at this age that women need more iron since most of their bodies have not yet adapted to menstruation. From the sample analyzed women between the age of 18- 24, had a total HEI score of 45.8 which was the lowest compared to the other age groups that are between age 25-34 and age 35-44. Moreover, women within these age groups had a meat score of 4.9, which was also the lowest compared to the other meat scores in the other age groups. According to Coad (2), the main appropriate source of diet is meat, but also vegetables contain iron, which is essential in reducing the probability of having anaemia. On the same note, it is much preferable to consume meat as a source of iron since it can be easily absorbed in the body compared to the haem iron in vegetables. Even though vegetables are sources of iron, Table 3 shows that the intake of vegetables in young women between the ages of 18-24 is less compared to the other age groups. The total Vege score is 4, which is the lowest when compared to the other age groups. From the results in relation to age categories, it is observed that young women at the age of 18 to 24 were prone to ID compared to the other age groups. This is because they are not cautious on their dietary intake. The probability of women above the age of 25 suffering from ID was less, and this is because their diet included food rich in high sources of iron.
The result of this study is comparable to other studies conducted by different authors in relation to the same issue. Most of these studies had similar findings(5,6). A study that was carried out by Sandstrom et al. (5) in 2012 found out that ID and IDA were common among young women at their adolescent age compared to women above the age of 27. The study concluded that conditions were common in both females who were athletes and non-athletes. Within the sample, 52 percent of the individual had ID and in the non-athlete group, 48 percent of the individual had ID. Comparison of the two groups illustrated that there was no difference in haemoglobin and among the athletes, 5 of the 57 had IDA while 3 o f the 92 non-athlete had IDA. The difference between the two groups was not statistically significant.
In accordance with Schlumbom (6), ID in young females in Australia is related to dietary quality and in Western countries, it is the primary cause of anaemia. He emphasizes that young females are at a high risk of having ID compared to older female above the age of 25. Schlumboms article summarizes the current issues related to iron metabolism, ID, and techniques used to determine the status of iron as well as the method employed for treatment and prevention. The article explains that ID was common in young female because of menstruation, poor dietary and high demand of iron resulting from growth.
According to Coad and Conlon (2), ID is more pronounced in women of reproductive age due to menstruation, which causes loss of blood. The two authors illustrate that there were other factors such as a diet of low bioavailability, regular donation of blood and pregnancy, which were associated with ID. They explained that physiological changes during pregnancy had a great impact on the normal ranges references ranges that were used during assessment. The study reveals biomarkers as the best alternative for assessment compare to the use of haemoglobin as a maker since ID is limited by its low sensitivity.
Body Mass Index
From the above findings, BMI did not have a significant difference in the overall HEI means compared to the age and the socioeconomic status of the women. Therefore, the BMI of the various groups (under weight, normal weight, overweight and obese) did not highly influence ID. This was contrary to the findings of some studies conducted with an objective of determining the relationship between BMI and ID (3). A study carried out by Eftekhari et al. (3) investigated the relationship associated with iron deficiency and weight status and concluded that there was an inverse relationship between the two variables. In other words, it discovered that overweight individuals were more likely to have ID compared to normal or underweight groups. The sampled used for this study was young female from the age of 13 to 20 years. Among the participants, 15.3% were at the risk of being overweight and 9.5% were considered obese.
Jung-Su Chang et al. (1) conducted a study on the same topic with an objective of determining the relationship between dietary intake and IDA in association with body mass index. The targeted group was women with different body mass index and the total participants in the study were 1274 females. During the analysis, their body weight, height, waist circumference, and blood pressure were recorded while their dietary intake was monitored each day. According to the study findings, being overweight was not connected to the high risk of ID or IDA. Moreover, the study emphasizes that women at reproductive age and who were underweight had a high risk of developing IDA compared to those at post-menopausal age and are overweight or obese.
Socio-Economic Index for Area
Socioeconomic status in another factor that was investigated in relation to iron deficiency that is associated with dietary quality. From the results, there is a significant difference between the mean overall HEI and the average HEI in the different quartiles. Participants categorized in the lowest SEIFA quartile, lowest 20%, had the least mean HEI score (M=44.2, SD=14.1) while participants categorized in the fourth SEIFA quartile had the highest mean overall HEI score (M=49.6, SD=14.2) (Table 3). There was a significant difference between the mean overall HEI and the lowest SEIFA quartile, and this insinuates that ID in women was highly influenced by the socioeconomic status of women. Women that were regarded to be of a low socioeconomic status had the highest risk of having ID or IDA compared to women that were considered to be of high socioeconomic status. In other words, women with low socioeconomic status were not in a position to afford to food that was rich in iron. This is the main reason their HEI is below the mean overall HEI. This was equivalent in other studies conducted by different authors. According to Kim J.et al. (4), the prevalence of anaemia was higher in the lower socioeconomic strata among young female. The main objective of the study was to finding out the relationship between socioeconomic status and ID among adolescent girls in Korea. The socioeconomic status in this study was represented by the housed hold income. The participants were 1321 female from the age of 10 to 18 years. According to the study findings, the occurrence of anaemia and ID was 5.3% and 4.5% of the sample respectively. There was a negative relationship between socioeconomic status and household income. Girls with high income consumed food rich in iron and vitamins and had a lower prevalence of anaemia and vice versa. A study conducted in young women of low socioeconomic status in Bangalore, India concluded the same. (7)
This study concludes that ID among women is as a result of poor dietary. The age of women has a significant impact on the level of iron in the body, and most of the young female at their reproductive age had a high risk of having ID compared to women above the age of 25 years. Similarly, the study concluded that body mass index of women does not significantly influence the ID. However, the socioeconomic status of women extremely affects ID in women. Women of low socioeconomic status have a high risk of having ID compared to those at high socioeconomic status.
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