Effect of amaranth porridge supplementation on the nutritional and health status of children 6-59 months in Uganda
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Supplementation of children using plant-based complementary foods can be an effective strategy for addressing childhood malnutrition in developing countries if it is affordable for most of the population. Grain Amaranth is as one of the nutrient rich foods that can be produced inexpensively to contribute to the nutrient requirements of vulnerable individuals such as Children. This study determined the effect of including amaranth porridge in the diet on the nutrition and health status of children aged 6-59 months. Experimental design was carried out based on comparative trials with a treatment group and control group. A total of 80 infants were enrolled and randomly selected from within the study groups. The feeding period was three months after which the nutritional and biochemical indicators were analyzed to obtain the required variables. The anthropometric indicators were determined using WHO Anthro (2011). Data were tested for equality of variances, and the appropriate value for significance (p-value) was applied at 5%. The differences between means in the two study groups were tested using the independent sample t-test was used to compare pre- and post-intervention means within each group. The results indicated there was a greater increase in the weight, height and MUAC of children in the treatment group compared to the control group. However, while there was no significant difference (p = 0.080) in the weight of children between the treatment and control group, there was a significant difference in the height (p < 0.01), and MUAC (p < 0.01) of children between the treatment and control group. Serum zinc and serum retinol concentrations were significantly higher (p < 0.001) in the treatment group compared to the control group. Hemoglobin concentration in the blood system of children was found to have increased in the treatment group compared to the control, however differences between the control and treatment were not significant (p = 0.463). The observed changes in the nutritional (weight for age, height for age, weight for height and MUAC) and the health indicators (Haemoglobin, serum retinol and serum zinc) of infants whose diets were supplemented with amaranth grain porridge points to the important role that nutritious plant-based foods such as amaranth grain could play in improving the nutrition and health of infants. Supplementing children 6-59 months with amaranth porridge made out of amaranth grain flour improved their nutritional status (weight for age, height for age, weight for height and MUAC) and health status (serum retinol, Zinc and Haemoglobin) over a period of three months.