Improving the nutritional status of malnourished children using soybean products in Rwanda
The prevalence of malnutrition is high in Rwanda especially in Ruhango District of Southern Province (23.5% in 2009). The contribution of soybean (Glycine max L), which is an important source of high quality and inexpensive protein and oil, to improvement of nutritional status of malnourished children is unclear. Although a lot of research has been done on the production of soybean in Rwanda, research on soybean in the diet to improve the nutritional status of malnourished children has not been done. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of soybean flour and soybean milk on the nutritional status of malnourished children under the age of five. The objective was to determine the weight gain due to each treatment in comparison with the control group. This study was conducted in Ruhango District of Southern Province Rwanda. A survey was conducted where households growing and utilizing soybean were identified and anthropometric measurements were taken on 294 children to select malnourished children. Thirty malnourished children participate in the intervention which lasted three months. One cup (250ml) of soybean milk was supplemented to ten children per day. An equal number was supplemented with 25g of soybean flour in soup (250ml). The caregivers of the ten children in the control group received nutrition education together with the two treatment groups. Anthropometric measurements were taken every month and entered in WHO ANTHRO software. Data was analyzed by regression models using GenStat 14th edition and the magnitude of weight gain due to each of the treatments was predicted at 5% level of significance. A linear mixed model was used to estimate and compare
weight gain among children fed on soybean milk and soybean flour supplement in comparison with the control group. Soybean products were found to affect weight gain of children (P = 0.04). The mean weight gain was 0.9 (±0.5) kg within three months of intervention. The difference in weight gain between the two treatment groups was not significant. To improve the nutritional status of malnourished children under five years further intervention is needed in terms of education and training on soybean based diet formulation.
Key words: soybean products, under five, Rwanda
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