Nutrition-Sensitive Intervention with African Indigenous Leafy Vegetables among School-Going Children in Machakos County, Kenya
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The 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) and Micronutrient Survey’s report revealed malnutrition among children aged 5-11 years in Kenya and recommended diversified food-based intervention through vegetable garden establishments to fight malnutrition. School gardens growing African Indigenous Leafy Vegetables (AILVs) (Amaranthus cruentus and Vigna unguiculata) were established at Kangundo and Kilalani primary schools in Machakos County and children aged 6-10 years, (Kangundo, N=66, Kilalani, N=46) that met the inclusion criteria participated as study subjects. There were two phases, I (13 weeks) and II (12 weeks) with 4 weeks in between to enable interchange of the role of the school as either experimental or control. AILVs were grown in gardens of the experimental school. Study subjects in the experimental group were fed on the AILVs recipe with an accompaniment of a mixture of cooked maize grains and beans once a day, 5 days a week per phase. The control group fed only on the accompaniment. Baseline and endline study children’s serum Zn and Fe levels were analyzed by Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy while retinol and β-carotene by High Performance Liquid Chromatography. Endline analysis in both phases I and II showed the mean serum Fe, Zn, retinol and β-carotene were significantly higher (p < 0.001) for respective experimental groups. Findings support the use of vegetable garden-sourced AILVs in schools to fight malnutrition among school going children.