Disparities in dietary intake and physical activity patterns across the urbanization divide in the Peruvian Andes

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017 Jul 11;14(1):90. doi: 10.1186/s12966-017-0545-4.

Abstract

Background: Diet and activity are thought to worsen with urbanization, thereby increasing risk of obesity and chronic diseases. A better understanding of dietary and activity patterns across the urbanization divide may help identify pathways, and therefore intervention targets, leading to the epidemic of overweight seen in low- and middle-income populations. Therefore, we sought to characterize diet and activity in a population-based study of urban and rural residents in Puno, Peru.

Methods: We compared diet and activity in 1005 (503 urban, 502 rural) participants via a lifestyle questionnaire. We then recruited an age- and sex-stratified random sample of 50 (25 urban, 25 rural) participants to further characterize diet and activity. Among these participants, diet composition and macronutrient intake was assessed by three non-consecutive 24-h dietary recalls and physical activity was assessed using Omron JH-720itc pedometers.

Results: Among 1005 participants, we found that urban residents consumed protein-rich foods, refined grains, sugary items, and fresh produce more frequently than rural residents. Among the 50 subsample participants, urban dwellers consumed more protein (47 vs. 39 g; p = 0.05), more carbohydrates (280 vs. 220 g; p = 0.03), more sugary foods (98 vs. 48 g, p = 0.02) and had greater dietary diversity (6.4 vs 5.8; p = 0.04). Rural subsample participants consumed more added salt (3.1 vs 1.7 g, p = 0.006) and tended to consume more vegetable oil. As estimated by pedometers, urban subsample participants burned fewer calories per day (191 vs 270 kcal, p = 0.03).

Conclusions: Although urbanization is typically thought to increase consumption of fat, sugar and salt, our 24-h recall results were mixed and showed lower levels of obesity in rural Puno were not necessarily indicative of nutritionally-balanced diets. All subsample participants had relatively traditional lifestyles (low fat intake, limited consumption of processed foods and frequent walking) that may play a role in chronic disease outcomes in this region.

Keywords: 24-h recall; Chronic diseases; Low- and middle income countries; Nutrition transition; Overweight; Urbanization.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake
  • Exercise*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity* / etiology
  • Peru
  • Rural Population*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population*
  • Urbanization*