In an attempt to verify the myth associated with cassava, that high consumption causes malnutrition, anthropometric measurements of 445 preschool children aged 0 - 5 years in 90 randomly selected farm households of cassava growing areas of Imo State were undertaken. Growth deviations (Z – scores) were calculated and assessed from National Centre for Health Statistics (NCHS). Expenditure on cassava and other staple foods was determined for each household of the preschool children and classified into two groups and the average determined. Significance of difference between the mean Z – scores of the children for above and below average expenditure households was determined by Student t – test. The growth deviations were less among preschool children from high than among those from cassava, yam and millet food expenditure households in all the anthropometric indices except in maize expenditure households, but the deviations were significantly less for total food expenditure households. High cassava food expenditure households had higher cash incomes through processed cassava products and hence better nutritional status. In order to maintain good nutritional status total expenditure on all foods rather than expenditure on individual food items as well as more processed cassava products production should be encouraged.
(Journal of Agriculture and Social Research: 2003 3(1): 55-69)