Beyond protein intake: bushmeat as source of micronutrients in the Amazon

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Wild meat is critical for the food security and income of millions of people, especially for poor rural households. Its role as a primary source of macronutrients worldwide has been recognized, but there have been few attempts to evaluate the contribution of bushmeat consumption to micronutrient intake. This is so particularly in the context of nutritional transitions induced by modernization and globalization. Here, we calculated the role of bushmeat as a source of micronutrients in the diets of urban and peri-urban inhabitants within the Tres Fronteras (Peru, Brazil, Colombia) region in the Amazon. We gathered food intake data from 35 households using 3-day 24-h food recalls combined with food weighing. Additionally, we interviewed 105 households on food consumption frequency. Our results indicate that 14.3% of the households consumed bushmeat, which represented approximately 32% of their caloric intake, 72% of consumed protein, and 77% of iron. Typically, households consuming bushmeat presented higher a nutritional status, i.e., lower intake of carbohydrates (-10%) and higher intake of proteins (+46%), iron (+151%), and zinc (+23%), than households not consuming bushmeat. Most of the sampled households did not achieve standard nutritional requirements for calories (94%), fiber, vitamin C, or iron (97%) per adult per day. None of the households achieved the recommended daily intake for calcium. Households consuming bushmeat consumed statistically significantly higher levels of iron, zinc, and vitamin C than households that did not eat bushmeat. The latter consumed an excess of 31% calories from processed foods per adult per day, and lower amounts of iron (-60%) and zinc (-19%). We argue that households not consuming bushmeat are at greater risk of anemia in the short run and other chronic health problems in the long run.

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