UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The nutritional status and physical work performance of children of migrant agricultural workers in Southern Brazil Waddell, Charlotte


A study was conducted to investigate and compare the nutritional status and physical work performance of children of Brazilian migrant agricultural workers with Brazilian children from wel1-to-do backgrounds. The relationship between nutritional status and physical work performance was also investigated. Dietary analysis was conducted using the 24-hour diet recall method. Evidence was found that intakes of energy, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C may have been inadequate among migrant worker children. Their diet was generally monotonous and consisted mainly of rice, beans, and coffee with sugar. Diets of well-to-do children were considerably more varied with good representation from all major food groups. Anthropometric assessment indicated that migrant worker children had values for weight and triceps skinfold thickness that were low compared to American standards. Values for height, arm circumference, and arm muscle circumference were average compared to American standards. Well-to-do children exceeded American standards for all anthropometric parameters measured. Biochemical investigations of protein and iron status were also conducted. Serum total protein and albumin levels were normal in most subjects in both groups. However, many migrant worker, children had low values for hematocrit, serum iron, and transferrin saturation. Most well-to-do children had normal values for these parameters. Hemoglobin levels were adequate in most subjects. Physical work performance was found to be impaired in migrant worker children. Exercise heart rates and post-exercise blood lactic acid levels in response to a standardized bicycle-ergometer work test were significantly higher in migrant worker compared to wel1-to-do children. In addition, a significant correlation was found between anthropometric indicators of nutritional status and parameters of physical work performance. Finally, socio-economic and ecological assessment indicated that the living conditions of migrant worker children were impoverished and unsanitary. This probably aggravated health problems such as infections that were found to occur among these children. Well-to-do children did not share these conditions.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.