Foods and beverages that make significant contributions to macro- and micronutrient intakes of children in South Africa - Do they meet the food-based dietary guidelines?

Steyn N.P. ; Maunder E.M.W. ; Labadarios D. ; Nel J.H. (2006)


Objective. The aim of this study was to determine which foods and beverages contribute most (≥ 5% of total) to energy, macronutrient and micronutrient intakes of South, African children aged 12 - 108 months. It was also our intention to evaluate the dietary content according to the Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDGs) (2001) for South Africans aged 7 years and older. Low energy and micronutrient intakes are widespread in South Africa and it is important to examine which foods are currently contributing to nutrient intake in order to make appropriate suggestions regarding dietary improvements. Methods. The National Food Consumption Survey was undertaken in 1999 on a representative sample of children aged 12 - 108 months (N = 2 818). Dietary intake of each participant was determined by means of a 24-hour recall undertaken with the primary caregiver of the child. Dietary aids were used to assist in the determination of portion sizes of foods and drinks consumed. The FoodFinder database was used to determine the dietary composition of the dietary intake according to local food tables. Statistical analyses involved calculating the percentage contribution of different food items towards total intake of each specific nutrient. Results. Only a few food items contributed significantly to the intakes of many nutrients. Maize porridge and bread contributed 27% and 14.8% to total energy, 19.1% and 15.7% to protein and 40% and 17.2% to carbohydrate intake, respectively. In terms of micronutrients, maize porridge and bread contributed 10.9% and 15.6% to iron, 14.9% and 16.9% to zinc, 9.8% and 19.5% to niacin and 37.6% and 15.6% to thiamin intake. In terms of the FBDGs, guidelines not being met were those aimed at improving variety of foods eaten, increasing fruit and vegetable intake, increasing legume intake, and eating more animal foods. Ones that were being met were making starches the basis of most meals, and using fats sparingly. Conclusion. Maize and bread contributed significantly to macronutrients and most micronutrients, with the exception of calcium. Food fortification of these items will increase these values significantly. The diet of children in South Africa (12 - 108 months) in 1999 was found to have little variety, was low in fat and animal foods, particularly dairy foods, and contained a low intake of legumes, fruit and vegetables.

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