Nutrient intakes, dietary diversity, hunger perceptions and anthropometry of children aged 1-3 years in households producing crops and livestock in South Africa : a secondary analysis of national food consumption survey of 1999.
Children less than five years of age are at a risk of growth failure worldwide. The South African National Food Consumption Survey (NFCS) of 1999 showed that 25.5% of children aged 1 - 3 years were stunted. Poor growth of young children in developing countries (South Africa included) has been associated with multiple micronutrient deficiencies because of the use of starchy plant-based complementary foods with little variety, especially among resource poor households. Dietary diversification through the use of crop and livestock production has been recommended as a strategy to improve the micronutrient intake and food security of households in resource poor settings. This study was a cross sectional secondary analysis of the South African NFCS of 1999 data, designed to investigate the impact of crop and livestock production on nutrient intake, dietary diversity, intake of selected food groups, hunger perceptions and anthropometric status of children aged 1 - 3 years in South Africa. Children from households producing crops only (n=211), crops and livestock (n=110), livestock only (n=93) and non-producers were compared at the national, in rural areas and among households with a total income of less than R12 000.00 per household per year. In rural areas and among households with a total income of less than R12 000.00 per household per year, children in the crops and livestock group had higher nutrient intakes for energy, vitamin 86, calcium and folate than the other groups (p<0.05), while the crops only group had higher nutrient intakes for vitamin A and vitamin C. The majority of children in all the four study groups had less than 67% of the RDAs for vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron and zinc. In addition , children in all the groups had a median dietary diversity score of four out of 13 food groups. In rural areas and among low income households, higher percentages (over 60%) of children in the crops only group consumed vegetables while the non-producers group was the lowest (47.7%). The non-producers group had the highest percentages of children consuming meat and meat products and the crops and livestock and livestock only groups had the lowest percentages. In both rural areas and among households withlow income, the majority of the households in all the study groups were experiencing hunger. In rural areas, one in five households were food secure. Crop and livestock production improved the nutrient intake and the intake of vegetables of children in rural and poor households. However, nutrient intakes were not adequate to meet the recommended nutrient levels. The high levels of food insecurity require support of these households to increase crop and livestock production and, integration of nutrition education to increase the consumption of the produced products.
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