Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) to the Technological University Dublin 2002.


There is substantial related morbidity and mortality among men and women in developed countries. Certain events during the course of a woman’s life such as menstruation, pregnancy, lactation and the menopause may compromise haematinic nutrient status. The purpose of this study was to investigate iron, folate and vitamin B12 status among a sample of apparently healthy, non-pregnant Irish adult women attending general practitioners in inner-city Dublin. Dietary, socio-economic, medical and lifestyle factors contributing to status of these haematinic nutrients were extensively examined. The initial part of the work validated the methods in a representative sample of inner city Dublin women (n=35, mean age 40.3 years, SD 5.5 years). The Food Intake Questionnaire was developed and validated against the Diet History and biomarkers of haematinic nutrients in blood samples. An “Interview Questionnaire” was also developed and tested for reliability. The main study examined iron, folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine levels in a sample of inner-city Dublin Woman (n=104, mean age 32.8 years, SD 11.2 years). Iron deficiency anaemia and low iron stores were discovered in 2.8% (n=3) and 14.4% (n=15) of the women respectively. Folate deficiency was found in 1.9% (n=2) of the female volunteers and a further 48% (n=50) had sub-optimal folate levels for women of childbearing age. Plasma vitamin B12 levels were all within the normal range. Plasma homocysteine levels were elevated in 12.5% (n=13) of the sample. Attitudes to nutrition and determinants of food choice were also assessed among the female volunteers (n=104, mean age 32.8 years, SD 11.2 years). Accuracy of self reported dietary perceptions with regard to adequacy of nutrient intakes and food consumption was examined. The relationship between self-reported physical activity level and BMI confirmed that leisure time physical activity is an important determinant of body weight. Body image concerns and slimming practices were assessed among female volunteers (n=134, mean age 34.7 years, SSD 10.7 years). Dissatisfaction with body weight was pervasive within the group at 82% (n=110). Many had used unsafe slimming practices such as smoking (30%, n=33) and diet pills (15%, n=16) in an attempt to lose weight. The results of this study highlight important nutritional issues for women in a primary healthcare setting.


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