The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Diet and Nutritional Health Among Cassava Producing Agriculturalists of East Java


1Faculty of Medicine, Gajdah Mada University, Yogyakarta, 2Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, Evanston

March 27, 2015 2:45, Grand Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

Research from the 1960 and 1970s documented high levels of malnutrition and small adult body size among rural populations of Java (Bailey, 1961, Edmundson, 1972, 1977). Since then, there has been little subsequent work to explore whether nutritional circumstances have improved over the last 40-50 years. This paper investigates patterns of dietary consumption, and measures of nutritional status in a sample of 84 men and 113 women (18-80 years) from the rural agricultural society Ngilo-Ilo, East Java. Mean daily energy intakes are modest, averaging 1374 kcal/day in men and 1026 kcal/day in women. The primary energy source is carbohydrates, contributing 75% of calories, compared to 12% for fat, and 13% for protein. These macronutrient proportions and dietary patterns are remarkably similar to those documented by Edmundson in three agriculturalist villages in East Java four decades ago (1972). Protein intakes are lower than WHO recommendations, averaging 36g/day in men and 27g/day in women. Both men and women had inadequate intakes of calcium, zinc and iron, but consumed adequate levels of vitamin C and vitamin A. The average male BMI in 1970s was 20.6 kg/m2 (157cm height/ 50.9kg weight), comparable to the mean of 20.5 kg/m2 (159.8cm height and 51.6kg weight) for men of this study. These findings indicate that undernutrition remains a major problem in east Java, and that agrarian reform of the 1970s did not help improve the plight of small-scale rural farmers.

Key words: East Java, agriculturalist, dietary diversity, nutritional health

This work was supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Northwestern University