Soybean (Glycine max) complementation and the zinc status of HIV and AIDS affected children in Suba District, Kenya.
Okeyo, Owuor JB
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The HIV and AIDS pandemic continues to ravage families and communities throughout the world particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. The scourge is associated with malnutrition specifically underweight, stunting and wasting among school children most of whom are orphaned by HIV. Subsequently, inadequate food supply at the household level has led to micronutrient deficiencies especially zinc. The purpose of this study was to assess the nutritional status of children aged 6-9 years in HIV and AIDS affected households in Suba District and to determine the effect of soybean complementation on zinc status of the children. Suba District, Kenya is resource-poor with high levels of food insecurity and lack of diet diversification. Experimental study design was employed in this study. Multi-stage, stratified and simple random sampling strategies were used to identify a total of 158 HIV and AIDS affected children from rural communities of Suba District who formed the study sample. Of these, one-hundred and six (106) children from both Sindo and Lambwe primary schools were put on a feeding trial; they were fed on corn-soy blend daily for three months. Fifty-two (52) children selected from Ong’ayo Primary School formed the control group and were not put on the feeding trial. Structured questionnaires were used to gather demographic and socio-economic data from mothers or guardians of the children. Anthropometric measurements (weight and height) were used to assess the nutritional status of children at baseline. Biochemical tests were carried out to determine serum zinc levels of the children between baseline and three months. These tests were analyzed at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Laboratories in Nairobi. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 11.5 and the Nutri-Survey computer soft ware. A probability value of <0.05 was considered significant. Results showed that out of the 158 children, 48 (29.8%) were malnourished; 43.7% were stunted, 22.9% were underweight while 33.3% were wasted. Nearly all (95.7%) the children were deficient in zinc at baseline. There was a significant (p<0.05) reduction in zinc deficiency from 95.7% (mean 8.41μm/l) to 70.2% (mean 10.2 μm/l) between baseline and three months of the feeding trial. Children in HIV-affected households in Suba District showed signs of underweight, stunting and wasting. Soybean complementation improved zinc status of the children and should therefore be promoted in the entire community to alleviate malnutrition.