Infant feeding practices and growth outcomes of Rastafarian children

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Dietetics and Nutrition

First Advisor's Name

Nancy S. Wellman

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Susan Humburg

Third Advisor's Name

Reba L. Anderson

Fourth Advisor's Name

Paulette M. Johnson

Date of Defense



This study was undertaken to determine Rastafarian infancy and childhood feeding practices and to analyze the effects of this vegan diet on the nutrient intake and growth of Rastafarian infants and children.

The Rastafarian cult originated in Jamaica, West Indies. Rastafarians have special religious, dietary and social guidelines, including many dietary prohibitions. The daily spiritual ritual includes smoking marijuana. Forty children of immigrant Rastafarians living in Miami were assessed to analyze their vegan diet and its effects on their nutrient intake and growth. All children had been breast-fed for an average of two years in conjunction with the early addition of foods. Bush teas were preferred to soy formulas and were used medicinally.

Excluding the three infants, the children were grouped according to age; one to three years old, n=ll; four to six years old, n=16; over six years, n=10. Among all groups, calories, calcium and B12 intakes were below 100% of the RDA. In the two older groups, B12 intake was less than 67% of the RDA and in the oldest group, calories were also less than 67% of the RDA.

Z-scores were used to compare anthropometric data obtained at various ages. Although weights, lengths and weight of length were above the means, there was a negative correlation of weight for length with age. Growth percentile categories for weight, weight for length, and triceps skinfold decreased with age.

The B12 intake and weight of one to three year olds were correlated (p=.01). Among four to six year olds, there was a correlation between B12 intake and both length (p=.01) and weight for length (p=.04). Among the oldest group, there are a negative correlation between B12 and weight (p=.O4); calories and length (p=.O3); and calories and weight for length (p=.006).

Sub-optimal nutrient intakes of B12, calories and calcium in this population are similar to findings in other vegan groups.



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