Is high availability of fruit and vegetable beneficial for children with anemia? A cross-sectional study in two peri-urban communities from Pakistan

Document Type : Original Article


1 Aga Khan University Karachi, Pakistan

2 University of British Columbia, Canada.



Introduction: In developing countries about half of young children are affected by anemia with 54% children aged under five suffering from moderate to severe anemia in Pakistan. The aim of this study was to  investigate the community, household, and individual level factors associated with anemia among children aged 1-5 years and to estimate the prevalence of anemia.
Methods: A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted among children in two peri urban communities of Karachi Pakistan. Systematic sampling method was used. A structured questionnaire was used to collect information on independent variables. The dependent variable was anemia which was measured by Hemacue machine. Binary multilevel logistic regression was used to analyze the data.
Results: The prevalence of mild, moderate and severe anemia in 1-5 year old childrenwas 17.6%, 57.7% and 14.8%, respectively. The community level factors found to be negatively associated with anemia  were  living in neighborhoods with high availability of fruit [Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 0.3, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.1-0.6], and residing in neighborehoods with high number of meat and dairy product and vegetable shops (AOR=0.4, 95% CI: 0.2-0.9). The household and individual level factors found to be positively associated with anemia were mothers with 4 or more children (AOR=1.9, 95% CI: 1.2-3.1), younger age (AOR=2.0, 95% CI:1.3-3.1) and child not being vaccinated (AOR=1.9, 95% CI: 1.0-3.6).
Conclusion: We found a high prevalence of anemia in children living in two peri urban communities. The public health measures call for improvements in nutrition facilities in the neighborhoods, vaccination of child and reduction in the number of family members.