Dietary quality of complementary foods for children aged 6 - 23 months in biofortified intervention areas of Chipata district, Zambia.

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Sakala, Nancy
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The University of Zambia
Malnutrition remains high in Zambia with stunting of under-fives at 35 percent and existing micronutrient deficiencies. Poor diets contribute thus the need for strategies to address malnutrition. Thus, Zambia promotes biofortification of crops like vitamin A orange maize, orange fleshed sweet potatoes and iron rich beans. This study aimed at establishing the diet quality of complementary foods for children aged 6 – 23 months in Chipata, a biofortified intervention district. Consumption patterns of 215 children aged 6 – 23 months were determined using 24 hour. recall. Focus group discussions were conducted among women beneficiaries to document common biofortified complementary food recipes. About 200g of 75 different types of cooked complementary foods were collected and analysed using established laboratory protocols. About 62.30 percent children did not meet the minimum dietary diversity indicating a higher likelihood of inadequate micronutrient intake. Age influenced dietary diversity with children (12 - 23 months) significantly consuming more of starchy grains, vitamin A rich foods and vegetables such as fresh maize, pumpkins and dark green vegetables which were in season. Consumption of animal source foods was low among children aged 6 – 8 months and 12 - 23 months indicating nutrient inadequacy. Orange maize was mostly utilized due to availability and accessibility of seed. Using Nutri Survey, intake data was analysed to determine the estimated nutrient intakes of the target children. Older children had adequate estimated intakes of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc. Adequate intakes of magnesium, phosphorus, folic acid, vitamins B1 and vitamin B6 were also observed in children aged 9 - 11 months. However, the intake of vitamin B1, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium was high for older children mostly contributed by orange maize nshima, fresh nuts, pumpkin leaf relish, pumpkins, cooked green maize and orange fleshed sweet potatoes. The estimated iron intake was lower among children aged 6 - 11 months but increased among those aged 12 – 23 month. There was a higher estimated energy intake among girls aged 9 – 11 months and children aged 12 - 23 months which increased with age. Carbohydrate intake was above 50 percent across all ages. These were based on estimations thus higher intakes observed could be due to overestimations by respondents due to recall bias. Despite recording high intakes of some key nutrients, the complementary foods analysed retained low quantities of protein, fat, carbohydrates and energy indicating poor quality diets. The samples still retained adequate amounts of beta carotene (37 -182.03 μg/g), iron (4.61 – 11.44 mg /100g), zinc (16.15 - 91.50mg /100g), ash (0.05 – 2.60 g/100g) , moisture ( 66.50 – 89.99 %) and fibre (0.27 – 3.96g /100g) respectively. Education of communities on consumption and preparation of diverse foods for quality complementary foods is key. Additionally, stakeholders should ensure increased access and availability of biofortified seed at community level.
Malnutrition in Zambia. , Malnutrition--Infants.