Year of Publication


Paper Type

Master's Thesis


Brooks College of Health

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Science: Nutrition (MSH)


Nutrition & Dietetics

First Advisor

Dr. Simin B. Vaghefi

Second Advisor

Dr. Judith C. Rodriguez

Third Advisor

Dr. Karen A. Schuster

Department Chair

Dr. Jeanni Patterson

College Dean

Dr. Pamela S. Chally


The purpose of this study was to compare the nutritional status of a rural population of Mossi people in Burkina Faso during the pre- and post-harvest seasons. Comparisons were made between the sample population and the American population, between the pre- and post-harvest seasons, between males and females in the sample population and between the various age groups in the sample population.

This nutritional assessment consisted of collecting demographical information, anthropometrical measurements such as weight and height, a clinical assessment to evaluate physiological signs of nutritional deficiencies and a food frequency questionnaire to describe the dietary practices of the population. Due to the potential risks of handling human blood, urine and feces, biochemical analyses were not performed in this study. Special attention was given to the nutritional problems most common in Africa: protein energy malnutrition, vitamin A deficiency, iron deficiency and goiter.

Adults in this study had an average body mass index of 19.1, classifying the adult population as "underweight". The population of American adults, however, has a tendency toward a body mass index in the slightly overweight category. The BMI range of adults in the study population was 12.9 to 27.8. A total of 36.9% of the adult population presented with some level of protein energy malnutrition while only 2.7% were slightly obese.

Seventy percent of children were below the 50th percentile on the 2000 Centers for Disease Control weight-for-height growth chart. A third of all children were below the 3rd percentile of weight-for-height. The vast majority of children in this study had a weight-for-height below the median, or "average", American child. The mean percent of median body weight-for-height for the child population in the lean season was 85.2% indicating that the median child in this sample population was mildly wasted. The mean percent of median weight-for-height rose to 94.6% in the post-harvest season indicating that the median child of the sample population was "normal" concerning wasting status.

The results of this study indicate that this rural population of Mossi people was less well-nourished than their American counterpart and that their nutritional status differed based on season (F=[4,177] 4.77, p=.03 for adults and F=[4,51] 8.56, p=.005 for children) but not gender (F=[ 4,177] .04, p=.83 for adults and chi square= 4.37, p=.22, df=3 for children) or age group for adults (r=.l 0, p=.29). In children, nutritional status was based on age group (but contrary to the expected outcome) with prepubescent children having lower weight-for-height percentiles than the under-five population (chi square = 40.34, p=.02, df=24). Nutritional status improved as predicted during the postharvest, or plentiful, season. Due to the lack of biochemical analyses, the potential vitamin and mineral deficiencies indicated in the brief physical examination were not confirmed. Vitamin A deficiency was the most likely nutrient deficiency; symptoms occurred in 51% of the population, primarily in adults and older children. PEM, although indicated by the anthropometric measures to affect 37.1% of the adult population and 55.4% of the child population, did not greatly manifest itself in clinical symptoms. The incidence of iron deficiency anemia was also relatively low with only 7% of the population presenting with pale conjunctivae, a potential, but non-specific sign of iron deficiency anemia. The goiter rate was also very low with only two cases occurring during the post-harvest season.