Evaluation of a potato-based food product for acceptability, growth and diarrheal management in children

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Guyo, V
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Vaal University of Technology
Introduction: The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks diarrhoea as the second greatest killer of children below the age of five years. In South Africa, children’s illness and death is highly attributable to diarrhoea and malnutrition, with undernutrition and HIV infections predisposing children to the illness due to suppressed immune system. Therefore, the malnutrition status of children synergically worsens as a result of each episode of diarrhoea. This study was a contract research with Feed My Starving Children (NGO) for testing a potato-based food product for nutritional impact and relief for diarrhoeal episodes. Objectives: The purpose was to evaluate the acceptability of the product as a nutritional supplement for child growth and as a first food to complement oral rehydration and other efforts to reduce the impact and support the resolution of the symptoms of chronic and acute diarrhoea in children between the ages of two and thirteen in a Qwa-Qwa community (the experimental group), and in pre-schools in the Vaal region of Gauteng (the control group). Study design: A baseline cross-sectional and subsequent experimental study design was used. Methods: The study purposively enrolled children between the ages of 2-12 years, in experimental group of 96 and control group of 100. The study was conducted in three phases the first of which was a cross-sectional baseline survey in which the measurements included questionnaires to establish the nutritional status, diarrhoea prevalence in the two groups and sensory analysis questionnaire to establish acceptability of the potato-based based food product by the experimental group only. The anthropometric measurements included weight and height; the diarrhoea measurements included prevalence, duration and severity; while the sensory analysis included the taste, texture and appearance of the product. The second phase was the intervention programme in which the experimental group consumed the product for six weeks. The measurements taken included height, weight and diarrhoea episodes on weekly bases in the two groups. In the last phase all the measurements done at baseline were repeated to v determine if the potato-based food intervention had an impact on the experimental group with respect to nutritional status and diarrhoeal mitigation as well as acceptability of the food product. Data analyses: All data was captured on Excel spreadsheets. The WHO growth standards were used to make a statistical comparison of the anthropometric indicators using WHO anthroPlus programme version 1.0.02. Data for diarrhoea and sensory analysis was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20.0 for descriptive statistics (frequencies, means and standard deviations). Two tailed tests were done in order to determine any statistical differences between baseline and follow up measurements of both experimental and control groups.