Feeding practices and nutrient content of complementary meals in rural central Tanzania: implications for dietary adequacy and nutritional status
Kulwa, Kissa B. M
Mamiro, Peter S
Kimanya, Martin E
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Background: Stunting and micronutrient deficiencies are significant health problems among infants and young children in rural Tanzania. Objective of the study was to assess feeding practices, nutrient content of complementary meals, and their implications for dietary adequacy and nutritional status. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in six randomly selected villages in Mpwapwa District, Tanzania during the post-harvest season. Information on feeding practices, dietary consumption and anthropometric measurements of all infants below the age of one year were collected. Forty samples of common meals were collected and analysed for proximate composition, iron, zinc and calcium. Results were expressed per 100 g dry weight. Results: Energy, protein and fat content in porridge ranged from 40.67–63.92 kcal, 0.54–1.74 % and 0.30-2.12 %, respectively. Iron, zinc and calcium contents (mg/100 g) in porridge were 0.11–2.81, 0.10–3.23, and 25.43-125.55, respectively. Median portion sizes were small (porridge: 150–350 g; legumes and meats: 39–90 g). Very few children (6.67 %) consumed animal-source foods. Low meal frequency, low nutrient content, small portion size and limited variety reduced the contribution of meals to daily nutritional needs. Conclusions: Findings of the study highlight inadequate feeding practices, low nutritional quality of meals and high prevalence of stunting. Feasible strategies are needed to address the dietary inadequacies and chronic malnutrition of rural infants.