, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 185-205

Nutritional composition and micronutrient status of home made and commercial weaning foods consumed in Tanzania

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Abstract

About 50% of young children in Tanzania suffer from protein-energyundernutrition (PEU) while more than 45% of children under the age offive suffer from various micronutrient deficiency disorders. The immediatecause of these conditions is inadequate intake and poor utilization ofnutrients, which begins in the weaning period and amplifies in thesubsequent years. This study was conducted to assess the potential of somehome made and commercial weaning foods commonly consumed in Tanzania tosupply adequate amounts of both macro- and micronutrients as recommendedin the Tanzania and FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Standards forcereal/milk-based weaning foods. Six types of home made weaning foods,maize, cassava, millet, sorghum and millet-sardine-peanut composite gruelsand plantain pap, and four types of commercial weaning foods, Cerelac-1,Cerelac-2, Lactogen-1 and Lactogen-2, popularly consumed in Tanzania, werechemically assayed for proximate composition, energy and mineral density.Results of the study indicated that, both the home made and commercialweaning foods were good sources of macro- and micronutrients. Whencompared with the Codex Alimentarius and Tanzania Bureau of Standardsspecifications for weaning foods, both home made and commercial weaningfoods had some shortcomings in terms of nutrient composition and energybalance. Many of the foods were low in fat, Fe, Ca, Zn and P but high incrude fiber, carbohydrate and magnesium. Ca, Fe and Zn were the mostcommon deficient macro/micronutrients in the home made weaning foods. Inspite of these shortcomings, most of the home made and commercial weaningfoods were nutritionally sound since they could provide reasonablepercentages of the recommended daily allowances for macro/micronutrientsand energy. It is suggested that, more efforts must be directed towardsincreasing the concentration of Ca, Fe and Zn in the home made weaningfoods through supplementation of the starchy staples with mineral richfoods. Meanwhile, the parents, caretakers and health workers should beeducated on the selection and preparation of nutritious, balanced weaningfoods and good weaning practices.