||Background: Three commonly recommended indicators for risk assessment of population zinc deficiency are stunting rates among children aged <5 y, prevalence of inadequate dietary zinc intake, and prevalence of lowplasma zinc (PZn). Data on zinc status in Benin are mainly drawn from stunting rates and data on PZn and dietary zinc intake are lacking.
Objectives: The aims of this study were 1) to assess the risk of zinc deficiency in preschool and school-age children from rural communities in northern Benin by means of the 3 indicators for population assessment, 2) to evaluate their level of agreement, and 3) to identify predictors of PZn and height-for-age z scores (HAZ).
Methods: We analyzed preintervention data collected during 2 efficacy trials and cross-sectionally assessed the risk of zinc deficiency in preschool (1–5 y, n = 326) and school-age children (5–10 y, n = 272) by 1) conducting a 3-d weighed food record survey, coupled with direct zinc and phytic acid analysis of consumed foodstuffs, and calculating usual dietary zinc intakes in a subsample of school-age children (n = 36); 2) analyzing PZn in all children (n = 598); and 3) measuring anthropometry indexes for assessment of stunting (HAZ <22SD) inall children (n = 594) and in <5-y-old children only (n = 273).Wederived predictors of PZn and HAZ by using multivariate regression with mixed-effect models.
Results: Prevalence of inadequate intakes of zinc ranged from 11% to 80% depending on whether the estimated average requirements (EARs) by the International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group or the EARs derived from the WHO_s recommended nutrient intakes were used. Prevalence of low PZn adjusted for acute-phase protein status was 45.7%, with higher rates among preschoolers than school-age children (P = 0.002). The stunting rate in <5-y-old children was 51.3%. PZn was predicted by age, methodologic factors, and socioeconomic status, whereasHAZ was predicted by age, sex, hemoglobin, and socioeconomic status.
Conclusions: The prevalence of <5-y stunting and the prevalence of low PZn indicate that the risk of zinc deficiency is elevated in this population. Risk estimates based on the prevalence of inadequacy of zinc intakes varied depending on the EARs used, and a consensus would facilitate nutrition survey evaluations.