Assessing dietary patterns in Barbados highlights the need for nutritional intervention to reduce risk of chronic disease


Sangita Sharma, Cancer Etiology Program, Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA.
Tel.: 808 564 5845
Fax: 808 586 2982


Background  The dietary habits of the Caribbean have been changing to include more fast foods and a less nutrient dense diet. The aims of this study are to examine dietary patterns in Barbados and highlight foods for a nutritional intervention.

Methods  Four-day food diaries collected from control participants in the population-based, case–control Barbados National Cancer Study (BNCS).

Results  Forty-nine adult participants (91% response) completed the diaries providing 191 days of dietary data. Total energy intake was almost identical to data collected 5-years earlier in the Barbados Food Consumption and Anthropometric Survey 2000, but the percent energy derived from fat was from 2.1% to 5.2% higher. Sugar intake exceeded the Caribbean recommendation almost four-fold, while intakes of calcium, iron (women only), zinc and dietary fibre were below recommendations. Fish and chicken dishes were the two largest sources of energy and fat. Sweetened drinks and juices provided over 40% of total sugar intake.

Conclusions  These data provide existing dietary patterns and strongly justify a nutritional intervention program to reduce dietary risk factors for chronic disease. The intervention could focus on the specific foods highlighted, both regarding frequency and amount of consumption. Effectiveness can be evaluated pre- and post-intervention using our Food Frequency Questionnaire developed for BNCS.