News Detail [ID: 89]

Uni Helsinki research on adolescent girls in Mozambique

Helsinki | Finland | 17 Mar 2017
In developing countries, children and women suffer the most from hunger and adverse effects of malnutrition. It has been estimated that maternal and child undernutrition is the underlying cause of more than 3 million child deaths yearly. Teen-age pregnancies are common in African countries and adolescent girls may thus be an especially vulnerable group. However, there has been very little research on the nutritional status of adolescents in developing countries.

The aim of the study was the food consumption, dietary intake and nutritional status among 15 to 18-year-old adolescent girls living in Zambézia Province. Data was collected in 2010 during two seasons, January-February (hungry season) and May-June (harvest season). Dietary intake was assessed by the 24-hour recall method and the nutritional status through anthropometry and a variety of biochemical measurements. One of the objectives of the study was to explore the differences in the diet and nutritional status among girls living in urban and rural areas.

Before the ZANE Study, the university carried out a preliminary project during which researchers gathered information on the food selection, food beliefs and the use of wild plants and mushrooms as food in Zambézia. The university also compiled a new food composition table of Mozambican foods. The table consists mainly of food composition data from other countries but researchers complemented the data by collecting and analysing samples of some local foods, including wild fruits, green leafy vegetables and mushrooms.

More About the research

ZANE Study (Estudo do Estado Nutricional e da Dieta em Raparigas Adolescentes na Zambézia) focuses on the nutrition of adolescent girls in Zambézia Province, Central Mozambique. The main partner in Mozambique was the Food Security and Nutrition Association (ANSA). The project was led by Professor Marja Mutanen ( Researchers in the project were Dr. Riitta Freese ( and Dr. Liisa Korkalo (

Publications from the ZANE study

PhD thesis from the ZANE-study:

Korkalo L. Hidden hunger in adolescent Mozambican girls: dietary assessment, micronutrient status, and associations between dietary diversity and selected biomarkers. PhD thesis. University of Helsinki. 2016 (

Publications from the ZANE study:

Korkalo L, Erkkola M, Fidalgo L, Nevalainen J, Mutanen M. Food photographs in portion size estimation among adolescent Mozambican girls. J Publ Health Nutr 2012 Aug 8:1-7. doi: 10.1017/S1368980012003655.

Korkalo L, Freese R, Fidalgo L, Selvester K, Ismael C, Mutanen M. A Cross-Sectional Study on the Diet and Nutritional Status of Adolescent Girls in Zambézia Province, Mozambique (the ZANE Study): Design, Methods, and Population Characteristics. JMIR Res Protoc. 2014;3(1):e12. doi: 10.2196/resprot.3109.

Freese R, Korkalo L, Vessby B, Tengblad S, Vaara E, Hauta-alus H, Selvester K, Mutanen M. Essential fatty acid intake and serum fatty acid among adolescent girls in central Mozambican. Br J Nutr. 2015;113:1086-95. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515000306.

Korkalo L, Freese R, Alfthan G, Fidalgo L, Mutanen M. Poor micronutrient intake and status is a public health problem among adolescent Mozambican girls. Nutr Res. 2015;35:664-73. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.05.013

Korkalo L, Erkkola M, Heinonen AE, Freese R, Selvester K, Mutanen M. Associations of dietary diversity scores and micronutrient status in adolescent Mozambican girls. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Feb 4. DOI:10.1007/s00394-016-1167-3

Kulathinal S, Freese R, Korkalo L, Ismael C, Mutanen M. Mid-upper arm circumference is associated with biochemically determined nutritional status indicators among adolescent girls in Central Mozambique. Nutr Res 2016;36:835-844. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2016.04.007.

Mutanen M, Freese R, Vessby B, Korkalo L, Selvester K, Kulathinal S. Determinants of plasma phospholipid arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids among adolescent girls in central Mozambique – possible roles of iron and zinc. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2016 Dec;115:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2016.10.004

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