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Prewar nutrition in rural China


, : Prewar nutrition in rural China. Jour Amer Dietetic Assoc 22(10): 867-869

The Chinese diet is essentially a cereal diet; in the southern 2/3 of China the cereal is rice; in the northern third, wheat is the most important, but millet, barley, and corn are also used. The millet-corn-soybean mush of North China contains proteins of superior supplementary value. The nutritive constituents in average rural Chinese diet are: calories, 2500; protein, 80 g.; fat, 30 g.; carbohydrate, 480 g.; Ca, 0.45 g.; P, 1.2 g. and Fe, 20 mg. The amt. of protein appears to be sufficient but this comes from an 88% consumption of cereals and legumes on % caloric intake basis and a 3% consumption of meat and eggs compared with 38% and 21% respectively for the U. S. The Ca intake is low. In the U. S., milk accounts for 9% of the total caloric intake. To study the possibilities of such a dietary rearrangement, preliminary feeding expts. on laboratory rats and with human subjects were under way at the outbreak of the Pacific war. The results, in general, indicated that laboratory rats on a cereal diet showed distinct improvements in growth when leafy vegetables, either fresh or dehydrated, replaced some of the cereal. The maximum improvement was obtained when the diet consisted of 15% leafy vegetable (dry basis) and 85% of cereal. This type of diet also provided distinct increases in the Ca intake, an improvement in the skeletal development generally, with possibly some improvement also in the quality of the protein. No reliable data are yet available on the vit. content of the avg. dietary. Vit. deficiencies are marked by the occurrence of beriberi in the Southeast and by the occurrence of avitaminosis-A in the North. Riboflavin and niacin deficiencies were reported from refugee camps in the Shanghai area.

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