Dhimal children well-fed, healthier than others: Study

Kathmandu, June 18:

Children from the Dhimal community are well-nourished than those from other communities, says a study report prepared recently by the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC).

The DFTQC had conducted a study on the nutrition level among the Dhimal community living in Urlabari, Morang.

About 87 per cent of the Dhimal children aged under five years were found having standard weights based on their age, whereas, according to the Demographic Health Survey (DHS), 2006, about 39 per cent of Nepali children are underweight.

About 85 per cent of the Dhimal children were found to be of appropriate height based on their age. Almost half of the Nepali children under five years of age are stunted or too short for their age.

Purna Chandra Wasti, a senior food research officer at the DFTQC, said, “Food habits of a majority of Dhimals are wholesome. Their average calorie and protein consumption meets the daily need. Some 71 per cent of people of the community consume meat and fish at least thrice a week.”

According to the study report, 92 per cent of mothers breastfeed their babies over four times a day for six months. Wasti attributed the satisfactory nutrition level among the Dhimal children to “proper food habit of the mothers during pregnancy, after birth and good childcare practices.”

About 70 per cent of mothers take care of their children themselves and a majority of them are aware of primary health care given to the children, the study found.

In addition, no other diseases were found among the children except common cold, pneumonia and diarrhoea. The result of the study was positive than expected, said Wasti, adding that a majority of the indigenous communities are vulnerable to malnutrition.

Dhimals are the minority group even among the indigenous nationalities, settled along the border areas of Morang and Jhapa districts. The community basically depends on agriculture and fishing to eke out a living. According to the 2001 census, there are 19,537 Dhimals in Nepal.