West Indian Medical Journal
Print version ISSN 0043-3144
MAITLAND, TE. Dietary habits, diversity and the indigenous diet of the turks and Caicos Islands implications for island-specific nutrition intervention. West Indian med. j. [online]. 2006, vol.55, n.6, pp. 1-13. ISSN 0043-3144. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0043-31442006000600003.
OBJECTIVE: To describe dietary habits in the Turks and Caicos Islands. DESIGN AND METHODS: Food frequency questionnaires were administered to female-household-heads of 144 households randomly selected from three islands voters lists (Grand Turk [n = 48], Providenciales [n = 46] and Middle Caicos [n = 50]). Data were collected on the distribution of: (a) Households among Levels 0 - 7 of a Food Group Scale, developed using the Cornell Technique of Scaling Dichotomous Data, and based on number of households that consumed seven food groups (meat and legumes, bread/cereals, fruits, vegetables, starchy roots/tubers/fruits; dairy and beverages) weekly; (b) Foods among four categories (common core, island core, occasional or rare) also based on weekly frequency of consumption. RESULTS: Thirty per cent of households on Grand Turk and 37% on Providenciales were at level 7, the most varied and complex diets, compared to 3% for Middle Caicos, which exemplified the indigenous diet of local seafood, beans, and grits (corn) supplemented with imports eg rice and bread/flour. Middle Caicos had substantially fewer island core foods ([n = 16] from four food groups) than did Grand Turk (n = 29) and Providenciales (n = 30), which represented the 7-food groups and included 15 (94%) of Middle Caicos island core foods. CONCLUSION: Providenciales and Grand Turk had more varied and complex diets. Understanding how various islands supplement the indigenous/traditional diet is imperative to develop and evaluate (a) island-specific nutrition intervention eg culturally appropriate nutrition education messages (eg to increase iron consumption); and (b) future research protocols.