Consumption of African Indigenous Vegetables Improves Children’s Body Fat Free Mass in Machakos County, Kenya
Thagana, Wilson M.
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School gardens growing African Indigenous Leafy Vegetables (AILVs) (Amaranthus cruentus and Vigna unguiculata) were established in Kangundo and Kilalani primary schools in Machakos County, Kenya 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 crossover 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 and beans once a day, 5 days a week per phase. The control group fed only on the accompaniment. Body Mass Index (BMI) was determined and a prescribed dose of deuterium oxide was administered and deuterium enrichment determined by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry for % Fat Free Mass (FFM) in children’s saliva at baseline and endline. Serum Zn and Fe levels were analyzed by Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy at baseline and endline. Endline analysis in both phase I and II showed the % FFM, mean serum Fe and Zn were significantly higher (p < 0.001) only for the experimental group. Food-based intervention through vegetable garden establishments has potential to eradicate malnutrition among school-going children in Kenya. Further, finding by previous studies that DDIM is more accurate in determining nutrition intervention outcomes in children than BMI is supported.