Effect of Baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) Fruit Pulp Drink on Iron Status of School Children
Objective: To determine the effect of consuming baobab fruit pulp drink with the diet on iron status of school children. Materials and Methods: Baobab fruit pulp was scrapped from the seeds and mixed with water in the ratio of 1:2 (w/v) to produce a refreshing drink. One hundred and forty two school children 6-8 yrs involved in the school meal programme in Enugu State, Nigeria were used for the study. The subjects were dewormed and divided into two equal groups of 71 children each. One group served as the control and the other as the test group. The haemoglobin (Hb) levels of the groups were comparable. The test group was fed 250ml of baobab fruit pulp drink (BFPD) which provided 60mg ascorbate after a meal based on cereal/legume/vegetable for 6 weeks. The control group was fed only the meal for the same period. The Hb and the serum ferritin of both groups were estimated before and after the intervention period. Result: There were significant (p<0.05) increases in the mean Hb (10.85 to 12.92g/dl) and mean serum ferritin (11.25 to 19.52μgl-1) concentrations of the subjects in the test group at the end of the study. No significant (p<0.05) changes occurred in the mean Hb (10.86 vs 11.01g/dl) and mean serum ferritin (11.56 vs 11.60 μgl-1) concentrations of the subjects in the control group after the intervention. Conclusion: Baobab fruit pulp significantly (p<0.05) improved the Hb and serum ferritin concentrations of the children. The fruit pulp is locally available particularly in the northern part of Nigeria and could be incorporated into many traditional dishes to diversify diet and improve bioavailability of iron.
Key words: Baobab fruit pulp, drink, haemoglobin, serum ferritin, school children.