Analysis of nutritional adequacy of local foods for meeting dietary requirements of children aged 6-23 months in rural central Tanzania
Jerman W, Rose
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Under nutrition remains a serious problem among children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Analysing how diets composed of local foods could achieve nutritional goals for infants and young children in low-income settings is essential. The objective of this study was to analyse how local foods can be used rationally and to what extent these foods can be supplemented to achieve nutrient requirements for children aged 6 – 23 months in resource-poor settings. Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out to estimate dietary intakes of 400 children aged 6-23 months using a 12-h weighed dietary record, 24-h dietary recalls, and 7-days food records. Anthropometric measurements on each subject were also taken. Analyses were done to establish the level of nutrient intake, and nutritional status of the study population using Microsoft Excel 2013 and ProPAN software version 2.0. Results: The results showed that the prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight for children aged 6–23 months was 30–41%, 1.5–3% and 4–9%, respectively. In addition, the results showed that diets that were consumed by the subjects comprised of local foods met vitamin A, vitamin C, protein and energy requirements for children aged 6–23 months. However, the extent of deficit in iron, zinc and calcium in baseline diets was large and difficult to meet under the existing feeding practices. Conclusions: The study shows that local foods in the study area have a potential to achieve recommended dietary intakes of some essential nutrients, and that interventions are needed to meet the required amount of iron, zinc and calcium for children aged 6–23 months. The interventions we propose here may encourage changes in traditional feeding habits and practices of the target population. Possible intervention options are (1) supplementation of local foods with nutrient-dense foods that are not normally consumed in the locality (2) providing new avenues for increasing the production and wide consumption of local nutrient-dense foods, or optimizing the way local diets are constituted so as to achieve nutrient recommendations for infants and young children.