The Impact of Nutrition and Body Mass Index on Malaria in Rural Western Kenya
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In order to alleviate the burden of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa it is important to understand the impact of lifestyle variables for public health efforts to be effective at the level of the household. This cross-sectional study analyzes clinical data collected from a sample population of 480 patients from the Luo tribe who attended a clinic in May 2011 in rural western Kenya. Data trends are inferred from the patient’s physical examination, and a food questionnaire detailing the daily diet of the patient. The average age in this sample was 34.66 years; the average BMI was 20.05 kg/m2 and the prevalence of malaria was approximately 8.5%. Data indicates that among those who had the most diverse daily diet, only 5% had malaria, while 9% of those who did not eat a daily diverse diet had malaria. Patients with a severely thin Body Mass Index (BMI) were found to be at a higher risk (12.8%) of having malaria, whereas the pre-obese and obese had no (0%) malaria. Data also indicated that with the average prevalence of worms being 7% in the sample, the severely thin manifested a proportion of 17%, with the pre-obese and obese manifesting no diagnoses of worms. Thus, for the patients who consume the most diverse diet, the presence of worms decreases their BMI, increasing the chances of suffering from malaria. Overall, these results show that nutrition and BMI are clinically important tools for combating malaria; however the presence of worms adversely affects the association.