Street foods contribute to nutrient intakes among children from rural communities in Winneba and Techiman municipalities, Ghana
The contribution of Street Foods (SF) to the energy and nutrient intakes of young children in rural African communities has been understudied. Under the Enhancing Child Nutrition through Animal Source Food Management (ENAM) project, a microcredit and nutrition education intervention with caregivers of children 2-to 5-years old in rural Ghana, the prevalence of SF consumption by young children and the contribution SF make to children’s energy, nutrient and Animal Source Food (ASF) intakes were assessed. A simple random sample of 172 caregiver-child pairs residing in the ENAM intervention communities in Winneba and Techiman municipalities participated in this study. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to interview caregivers about SF purchased for their 2- to 5-years old children in the previous week. During two non-consecutive 12-hour home observations, all foods consumed by a subsample of the children (n=45) were weighed. Energy and nutrient content of weighed foods were estimated using the Ghanaian food composition table. About 80% of caregivers purchased SF for their child at least once that previous week. Most (76%) SF purchased were grain-based and were purchased as complete meals. The children’s total ASF intake was 69.9 ± 11.0 g; quantity of ASF consumed was similar but their sources of ASF differed between the two municipalities. In Techiman, SF contributed 36% of the ASF consumed over the two observation days compared to 4.2% in Winneba (P=0.003). Overall, SF contributed 35% of energy, 43% of vitamin A, 20% of vitamin B12, 30% of zinc, 34% of iron, and 54% of calcium consumed by children. The contribution of SF to young children’s dietary intakes, especially their ASF intakes and hence micronutrient intakes, may improve overall dietary quality. This study provides evidence that, SF is an important part of children’s diets in rural Ghana and could be an important target for food-based interventions to enhance nutrition in young children.