Application of a food-based dietary guideline as nutrition strategy in crèches to enhance vitamin A consumption

  • PC Kwinda
  • E Van der Spuy
  • AT Viljoen

Abstract

A quantitative study was undertaken (April-September 2007) in the Thulamela municipal area, in Venda, Limpopo province, with the aim of developing and implementing nutrition strategies to improve crèche children’s consumption of vitamin A-rich fruit and vegetables.  Through convenience sampling, 100 caregivers from 20 créches participated. Information about the participants, their nutrition knowledge and the meals provided was collected following the triple-A cycle approach (assessment, analysis and action).

Situational assessment and analysis revealed that the children’s intake of vitamin A from fruit and vegetables at crèches was low. A lack of knowledge and information about vitamin A, coupled with the unavailability and inaccessibility of food, primarily due to non-production and affordability contributed to the situation. Food preparation, storage and preservation also posed challenges to caregivers. As part of the action, nutrition strategies were developed and implemented. Caregivers were shown how to increase the availability and use foods rich in vitamin A and encouraged to grow, and use, both cultivated and non-cultivated vitamin A-rich fruit and vegetables. Furthermore the concept of the food-based dietary guideline”eat plenty of fruit and vegetables everyday” was introduced.

 Follow-up data showed substantial advancement in caregivers’ knowledge and skills. Access, availability and utilisation of vitamin A-rich fruit and vegetables had improved markedly. Flourishing vegetable gardens, planned menus and well prepared meals were concrete evidence, and fruit and vegetables were more frequently served to children. Implementation of the developed strategies epitomized the envisaged outcome of this study and confirms that food-based guidelines can be applied as nutrition strategy with relative ease in practice, to enhance crèche childrens’ intake of vitamin A.

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