Are dietary intake and nutritional status influenced by gender? The pattern of dietary intake in Lao PDR: a developing country

Kethmany Ratsavong, Tessa van Elsacker, Daovieng Doungvichit, Latsamy Siengsounthone, Sengchanh Kounnavong, Dirk Essink

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Recognition of discrepancies between men and women in nutritional intake is important to tackle food and nutrition insecurity and the often-double burden of malnutrition. The purpose of this study was to assess nutritional status and dietary intake of the Lao population, with a focus on possible influences of gender. METHODS: Dietary intake was assessed in a national cross-sectional study of 1771 randomized participants aged from 1.01 to 89 years, using 24-h dietary recall. Dietary reference intakes were used to assess nutrient insufficiency. Chi-square test was used to evaluate gender differences and multiple univariate logistic regression to examine associations between gender, nutritional status, demographics and nutrient insufficiency. RESULTS: Nutrient insufficiencies were higher among pregnant and lactating women than other adult men and women, especially for protein and micronutrients such as vitamin B3, B1, C and other vitamins. Dietary intake and BMI were similar between men and women; all had insufficient intake of all types of nutrients, except sodium. However, women had lower intake than men for almost all nutrients and age groups. The prevalence of overnutrition was higher among those aged 18 years and over for both sexes. Among adult women (15-49.9 years old) and older adult women (50 years old or above), the proportions were: underweight 8.6% (both groups), overweight 18.4 and 20.5%, and obese 34.2 and 39.1%, respectively. Among pregnant and lactating women, the rates of underweight were 7.5 and 1.4%, of overweight were 17.8 and 27.1%, and obese, 21.9 and 40.0%. Among adult and older men, 3.2 and 8.3% were underweight; 21.0 and 18.6% were overweight and 28.2 and 27.6% were obese. Multiple univariate logistic regressions revealed that the factors rural area, dry season and Northern-Lowland region were associated with inadequate micronutrient intake among children, adolescents and adults of both genders. CONCLUSIONS: Dietary intakes were alarmingly micronutrient-insufficient. Macronutrient imbalance and double burden of malnutrition were confirmed in both sexes. Gender differences were limited; men and women had similarly insufficient intakes, but pregnant and lactating women were disproportionately affected. Nutritional interventions should also take men and older people into account to solve nutrition problems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalNutrition journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2020


We would like to acknowledge the contribution of the Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute, its partners and donors who carried out the larger study from which the data were taken. Sincere gratitude and special thanks to the EU funded LEARN Project (Number: DCI/SANTI/2014/342-306) and MCNV Lao PDR for supporting the work of data analysis and writing. We appreciate the assistance of Prof. Pamela Wright in writing and English language editing and Prof Jacqueline Broerse for discussing how the study relates to my PhD project and the broader field. Funding for this research was provided by the financial support of the European Union.

FundersFunder number
European CommissionDCI/SANTI/2014/342-306


    • 24-h recall
    • Children
    • Dietary adequacy
    • Dietary intake
    • Gender
    • Lao PDR
    • Women


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