3.3. Cultural and therapeutic practices
Withdrawal of solid food from individuals with fever, diarrhea, or
other symptoms of infection is an almost universal practice that results in
decreased caloric intake. While consumption of food is also reduced by anorexia,
the purposeful withholding of food has a significant impact.
Moreover, the food offered is likely to be gruels and beverages of
low caloric density. For example, in Guatemala, children with measles are
frequently given tea (agua de tisana) made from a local wild plant.
Many years ago, CHUNG and VISCOROVA (1948) showed that the common
practice of withholding food from children with diarrhea adversely affected
their recovery. Figure 8 shows the difference in intake by children with
diarrhea who were not fed during illness and experimentally those given a good
diet. Although the children given food had an increased stool volume, they also
absorbed more dietary energy and protein and recovered sooner. Many similar
studies have followed, and it is now strongly recommended that food not be
withdrawn during diarrhea and other infections.
Percentage of normal
intake consumed per day in starved group and fed group. (CHUNG et al