The effects of soybean (Glycine max) and pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) food mixtures on the nutritional status of school children in Suba District, Kenya
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The effects of HIV and AIDS are reversing the developmental gains on malnutrition in Africa. It is important to reposition nutrition for development that is sustainable, especially in resource poor areas, an example which is Suba District in Nyanza province. Suba District has the highest prevalence of HIV and AIDS which is currently 31%. This has resulted in inadequate food at the household level leading to macro and micronutrient deficiencies. The objective of the work was to establish the effect of corn-soy and corn-pigeon pea blends on nutritional status of school children aged 6-9 years in Suba District, Kenya. An experimental research design was adopted that would enable the data to be analyzed statistically. Two primary schools were purposively selected followed by a systematic sampling of the pupils leading to the selection of 49 pupils from Mbita and 52 pupils from Ong’ayo schools. The children were purposely chosen to be affected by HIV and known to be vulnerable in the community. Soybean or pigeon peacorn mixtures were commercially prepared at NUTRO EPZ, Athi River, Kenya, to give 14% protein of roasted flour. The children were fed at midday in school and a take home ration was prepared to serve a family of five during the weekend to ensure that the index child was allowed to eat his/ her portion. Anthropometric techniques were used for data collection. Pupils from Mbita were fed on corn-soy while those from Ong’ayo were fed on corn-pigeon pea blends for five months. Nutrisurvey and SPSS were used for data analysis. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to interpret results at p<0.05 confidence interval. Stunting level in Mbita decreased from 21.6 to 16.4% and in Ong’ayo from 21.5 to 18.8%. Underweight and wasting decreased significantly (p<0.05). Grain legumes can improve nutritional status of children; however, a longer feeding (intervention) period and a more dense food type are needed to allow for a better impact. Grain legumes, especially soybeans, contain genistein and immune-boosting substances that can improve growth and could decrease the use of nutritional intervention.