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A randomized controlled trial was conducted to assess the effect of African leafy vegetable (ALV) consumption on Fe, Zn and vitamin A status in children.
Children were randomly allocated to receive either a 300 g cooked ALV dish and school meal starch (n 86) or the normal school meal (n 81) five times per week for three months. ALV in the dish consisted mainly of Amaranthus cruentus (at least 80 %) and the remainder of Cleome gynandra, Cucurbita maxima or Vigna unguiculata. Nutrient content and consumer acceptance of the ALV dish were also determined.
North West Province, South Africa.
Grade R to grade 4 children (6–12 years old) of two farm schools.
The ALV dish contributed 11·6–15·8 mg Fe and 1·4–3·7 mg Zn. At baseline, prevalence of deficiencies in the intervention group was 16·0 %, 16·3 %, 7·0 % and 75·6 %, respectively, for anaemia (Hb<11·5 g/dl), Fe (serum ferritin<15 µg/l), vitamin A (serum retinol<20 μg/dl) and Zn (serum Zn<65 μg/dl); and in the control group 10·5 %, 18·5 %, 2·5 % and 75·3 %, respectively. No significant estimated intervention effect was found.
This randomized controlled trial showed that ALV were unable to improve serum retinol, serum ferritin or Hb if there are only mild deficiencies present. Furthermore, despite the low Zn status in the study population, ALV consumption did not improve serum Zn concentrations either.
Malnutrition in Africa has not improved compared with other regions in the world. Investment in the build-up of a strong African research workforce is essential to provide contextual solutions to the nutritional problems of Africa. To orientate this process, we reviewed nutrition research carried out in Africa and published during the last decade.
We assessed nutrition research from Africa published between 2000 and 2010 from MEDLINE and EMBASE and analysed the study design and type of intervention for studies indexed with major MeSH terms for vitamin A deficiency, protein–energy malnutrition, obesity, breast-feeding, nutritional status and food security. Affiliations of first authors were visualised as a network and power of affiliations was assessed using centrality metrics.
Africans, all age groups.
Most research on the topics was conducted in Southern (36 %) and Western Africa (34 %). The intervention studies (9 %; n 95) mainly tested technological and curative approaches to the nutritional problems. Only for papers on protein–energy malnutrition and obesity did lead authorship from Africa exceed that from non-African affiliations. The 10 % most powerfully connected affiliations were situated mainly outside Africa for publications on vitamin A deficiency, breast-feeding, nutritional status and food security.
The development of the evidence base for nutrition research in Africa is focused on treatment and the potential for cross-African networks to publish nutrition research from Africa remains grossly underutilised. Efforts to build capacity for effective nutrition action in Africa will require forging a true academic partnership between African and non-African research institutions.
Urbanization is generally associated with increased CVD risk and accompanying dietary changes. Little is known regarding the association between increased CVD risk and dietary changes using approaches such as diet quality. The relevance of predefined diet quality scores (DQS) in non-Western developing countries has not yet been established.
The association between dietary intakes and CVD risk factors was investigated using two DQS, adapted to the black South African diet. Dietary intake data were collected using a quantitative FFQ. CVD risk was determined by analysing known CVD risk factors.
Urban and rural areas in North West Province, South Africa.
Apparently healthy volunteers from the South African Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study population (n 1710).
CVD risk factors were significantly increased in the urban participants, especially women. Urban men and women had significantly higher intakes of both macro- and micronutrients with macronutrient intakes well within the recommended CVD guidelines. While micronutrient intakes were generally higher in the urban groups than in the rural groups, intakes of selected micronutrients were low in both groups. Both DQS indicated improved diet quality in the urban groups and good agreement was shown between the scores, although they seemed to measure different aspects of diet quality.
The apparent paradox between improved diet quality and increased CVD risk in the urban groups can be explained when interpreting the cut-offs used in the scores against the absolute intakes of individual nutrients. Predefined DQS as well as current guidelines for CVD prevention should be interpreted with caution in non-Western developing countries.
To evaluate the effectiveness of a vitamin-fortified maize meal to improve the nutritional status of 1–3-year-old malnourished African children.
A randomised parallel intervention study was used in which 21 experimental children and their families received maize meal fortified with vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and pyridoxine, while 23 control children and their families received unfortified maize meal. The maize meal was provided for 12 months to replace the maize meal habitually consumed by these households.
Sixty undernourished African children with height-for-age or weight-for-age below the 5th percentile of the National Center for Health Statistics' criteria and aged 1–3 years were randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. Baseline measurements included demographic, socio-economic and dietary data, as well as height, weight, haemoglobin, haematocrit, serum retinol and retinol-binding protein (RBP). Anthropometric, blood and serum variables were measured again after 12 months of intervention. Complete baseline measurements were available for 44 children and end data for only 36. Changes in these variables from baseline to end within and between groups were assessed for significance with paired t-tests, t-tests and analysis of variances using the SPSS program, controlling for expected weight gain in this age group over 12 months. Relationships between changes in variables were examined by calculating correlation coefficients.
The children in the experimental group had a significantly (P≤0.05) higher increase in body weight than control children (4.6 kg vs. 2.0 kg) and both groups had significant (P≤0.05) but similar increases in height. The children in the experimental group showed non-significant increases in haemoglobin and serum retinol, while the control children had a significant (P = 0.007) decrease in RBP. The change in serum retinol showed a significant correlation with baseline retinol (P = 0.014), RBP (P = 0.007) and weight (P = 0.029), as well as with changes in haemoglobin (P = 0.029).
Despite a small sample size, this study showed positive effects of a vitamin-fortified maize meal on weight gain and some variables of vitamin A status in 1–3-year-old African children. The study confirmed the relationship between vitamin A and iron status. The results suggest that fortification of maize meal would be an effective strategy to address micronutrient deficiencies in small children in South Africa.
To compare the relationships between food (nutrient) intakes and biochemical markers of nutritional status of asymptomatic HIV-infected with HIV-uninfected subjects, to gain more information on the appropriate diet for HIV-infected persons at an early stage of infection.
Cross-sectional population-based survey.
North West Province, South Africa.
Two hundred and sixteen asymptomatic HIV-infected and 1550 HIV-uninfected men and women volunteers aged 15 years and older, recruited as ‘apparently healthy’ subjects from 37 randomly selected sites.
Food and nutrient intakes, measured with a validated food-frequency questionnaire, and nutritional status indicated by anthropometric and biochemical variables, measured by a standardised methodology.
The prevalence of HIV infection in the study population was 11.9%. The anthropometric indices and nutrient intakes of HIV-infected and uninfected subjects did not differ significantly, indicating that these 216 HIV-infected subjects were at an early stage of infection. Of the biochemical nutritional status variables, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and total cholesterol, haemoglobin, albumin and triglycerides were significantly lower in infected subjects. They also had higher globulin and liver enzyme levels than uninfected subjects. In infected subjects, serum albumin correlated significantly with serum lipids, serum vitamin A, serum vitamin E, serum iron, total iron-binding capacity and haemoglobin. The significant positive correlations of the liver enzymes with serum lipids, albumin, vitamin A and iron, observed in HIV-uninfected subjects, disappeared in the infected subjects. Polyunsaturated fat intake showed significant positive correlations with the increased liver enzymes in infected subjects. A principal components analysis indicated that, in infected subjects, increased liver enzymes correlated with higher consumption of maize meal and lower consumption of meat and vegetables.
Conclusions and recommendations:
This survey indicated that asymptomatic HIV-infected subjects who followed a diet rich in animal foods had smaller decreases in serum albumin, haemoglobin and lipid variables, and smaller increases in liver enzymes, than those who consumed a diet based on staple foods. This suggests that animal foods are associated with improved nutritional status in HIV-infected persons. These results should be confirmed with intervention studies before dietary recommendations for asymptomatic HIV-infected individuals can be made.
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