Food-Based Approaches to Multiple Micronutrient Deficiencies and Protein Quality Improvement in Rural Kenya

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Principal Investigator: Charlotte Neumann

Energy, protein, and multiple micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent globally, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. These have negative impact on growth, health, cognitive development, and morbidity, particularly for infants, children, and women. Numerous nutrient supplement distribution programs and various staples are being used but have limited success and sustainability. Reaching vulnerable rural populations has been highly problematic and non-sustainable. Our research team at UCLA, in collaboration with UC Davis andNairobiUniversity, recently completed a randomized controlled feeding intervention study of schoolchildren in ruralKenyausing daily school feedings. Schools were randomized to isocaloric feedings consisting of the local dish plus added milk vs. added meat or added oil and a control. The meat group showed significantly greater improvements in muscle mass, physical activity, cognitive development, school performance, and morbidity compared to all other groups. The above findings were the basis of the current randomized controlled feeding intervention study of HIV-positive/drug-naïve Kenyan women and their children using a similar food-based intervention. The outcomes include nutrition status, body composition, morbidity, immune function, physical activity, and prevention of progression to full-blown AIDS. Data analysis is now in progress. Agricultural extension can help households raise more small animals for household consumption and stress the importance of utilizing animal-source foods such as mollusks, insects, and fish in their diets.