1. The previous paper (Eaton et al. 1984) described the nutrient intake of pregnant Asian women attending Sorrento Maternity Hospital, Birmingham using the weighed and recall methods. The present paper describes the subethnic variation in nutrient intake by comparing the results from Pakistanis, Sikhs, Hindus and Bangladeshis and also describes food eaten by the pregnant women.
2. Generally. Sikhs had the highest intake of most nutrients (mean energy 7.5 MJ (1800 kcal)/d) and the greatest variety of foods; they ate chapatti and paratha but few ate meat. Hindus had a very similar diet but more ate meat, chicken and rice. Pakistanis had an energy intake about 10% below that of the Sikhs and Hindus; meat was eaten, and intake of fruit, and therefore vitamin C, was quite large. Bangladeshis were the smallest women; they had the lowest intake of energy (mean energy 6.5 MJ (1555 kcal)/d) and most nutrients, except for protein, so that 15% of energy was provided by protein. Fish, rice and a low-fat intake were other features of their diet.
3. From a nutritional standpoint, peoples coming from the Asian subcontinent should be divided into subethnic groups; the collective term ‘Asian’ is insufficient.
4. It is not clear whether these differences have any effect on the life and health of the individuals. Comparison of groups does not suggest an obvious relationship between dietary intake and fetal growth; however, there is other evidence to implicate the possible role of deficiencies of protein, energy, zinc and pyridoxine.
5. The results provide some support for the community nutritional policies of (a) offering vitamin D supplements to all pregnant Asian women and (b) fortifying bread with calcium, thiamin and nicotinic acid. There is probably no need to offer vitamin A and C supplements but they are harmless. Indications for iron supplementation are no different from those for white English women.