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A retrospective investigation of thiamin and energy intakes following an outbreak of beriberi in The Gambia

Thurnham, D. I., Cathcart, A.E. and Livingstone, Barbara (2011) A retrospective investigation of thiamin and energy intakes following an outbreak of beriberi in The Gambia. Nutrients, 3 (1). pp. 135-151. [Journal article]

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In the early part of the rainy season in 1988, an outbreak of beriberi occurred infree-living adults in a relatively small area in the North Bank region of The Gambia.In 1995 we selected two compounds in a village called Chilla situated within the affecteddistrict to retrospectively examine dietary factors potentially contributing to the outbreak.There had previously been cases of beriberi in one compound (BBC) but not in theother (NBC). We measured energy and thiamin intakes for four days on six occasionsduring the year. We calculated energy and thiamin intakes of people living in thetwo compounds and foods were collected for thiamin analysis through the year.Thiamin:Energy ratios only met international recommendations in the immediatepost-harvest season when energy and thiamin intakes were highest and then fell throughthe year. In the rainy season when food was short and labour was heaviest, energy intakeswere lower in the NBC but thiamin:energy ratios were lower in BBC. Records of rainfall in1988 collected near the village indicated that the amount in August was twice the average.We suggest the heavy rainfall may have increased farm workload and reduced incomefrom outside-village work activity. The lower energy intakes in the NBC may have forcedadults to rest thus sparing thiamin demands and delaying onset of beriberi. In contrast, thehigher energy intake of adults in the BBC may have enabled them to continue working,thus increasing demands for thiamin and inducing the earlier onset of beriberi.

Item Type:Journal article
Keywords:thiamin intake, energy intake, seasonality, beriberi
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Biomedical Sciences
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Research Institutes and Groups:Biomedical Sciences Research Institute > Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE)
Biomedical Sciences Research Institute
ID Code:24572
Deposited By: Prof David Thurnham
Deposited On:29 Jan 2013 15:28
Last Modified:17 Oct 2017 16:07

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