Development and utilization of amaranth sorghum Grains product to enhance the Nutritional status of moderately malnourished Children in Thika District
Okoth, Judith Kanensi
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Poor complementary foods are a major cause of undernutrition in sub-Saharan Africa. Thin porridge prepared predominantly from cereals and starchy tubers is a common complementary food. Such porridge is low in energy and nutrient density and may be high in anti nutrients thus not providing the child's requirements. Infants at this stage of rapid development have high requirements of energy and nutrients per unit body weight. There is need therefore to develop nutrient-dense complementary foods that will provide adequate nutrients for the children. The main objective of this study was to develop a nutrient-dense complementary food from amaranth and sorghum grains then determine its effect on the nutritional status of moderately acutely malnourished (MAM) children 6 to 23 months old. Amaranth grain has high biological value proteins and a better amino acid profile than other staples. It is not commonly used as a complementary food in Kenya. Amaranth and sorghum grains were steeped and germinated for various periods to get the optimum steeping and germination time that would result in best nutrient composition and least antinutrients content. Product formulation was done and its nutritional value determined by proximate analysis. The effect of the developed food product in rehabilitating MAM children was tested using a randomized controlled study, at Kiandutu slum, Thika. The study had two arms: control group (CG) in which children received maize-sorghum flour and the treatment group (TG) received the developed flour. The sample size per study group was 73 mother-child pairs. The children in the TG received Kcal 1000 worth of porridge per day while those in the CG received Kcal 266.8. Mothers of children in both groups were given nutrition education at baseline and monthly for six months. Anthropometric measurements, morbidity and food intake data were taken at baseline, then monthly for six months. Product acceptability was determined through focus group discussions and questionnaires administered to the mothers. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the study population in terms of food security, morbidity, nutrient intake and children's nutritional status. The effect of the developed food product in rehabilitating MAM children was tested by Relative Risk and Mann Whitney U tests. Amaranth grains steeped for 5 hours and germinated for 24 hours had the least dry matter loss and best nutritional quality. Sorghum grains had optimal antinutrient reduction after steeping for 24 hours and germination for 72 hours. The formulation with a ratio of 90 to 10 amaranth to sorghum grains provided jhe highest energy (5 kcal per gram on dry weight basis) content. At baseline characteristics of the two groups were similar. On a monthly basis, nutrient intake in the TG was significantly higher for a majority of the nutrients than in the CG. At months 5 (RR=1.35, p=0.03) and 6 (RR=2.23, p<O.OOI), children in the TG had significantly lower wasting rates compared to the CG demonstrating a positive impact of the developed product in rehabilitating MAM children. The food product was acceptable to the community. The amaranth-sorghum grains food product may offer a local food for rehabilitation of MAM children and improve their nutrition status. It is recommended that further studies be conducted to establish why the product took long to rehabiliate the malnourished children.