Acceptance of an orange-fleshed sweet potato complementary food by infant caregivers in KwaZulu-Natal Province – a preliminary study
Background. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a major public health problem that affects South African children and is a major contributor to the mortality of children under five years of age. VAD can result in visual impairment, diarrhoea and increased risk of severe measles and death. Orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP), a staple crop biofortified with provitamin A, has the potential to improve vitamin A intake in infants, especially when used as a complementary food.
Objective. To assess the acceptance of an OFSP complementary food by infant caregivers.
Methods. This study was conducted at the Newtown Community Health Centre, Inanda, in the eThekwini District of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Sixty-three infant caregivers assessed the acceptance of complementary foods made from OFSP and white-fleshed sweet potato (WFSP) (control), using a five-point hedonic rating test. In addition, ten caregivers participated in two focus group discussions, using pre-determined questions.
Results. There were no statistically significant differences in the sensory attribute ratings of complementary foods made from WFSP and OFSP. The OFSP complementary food was well-accepted, especially its colour and soft texture. None of the focus group discussion participants had seen or tasted the OFSP before. Caregivers were willing to buy the OFSP, if it were available and cheaper than the WFSP.
Conclusion. The complementary food made from the OFSP was highly acceptable to infant caregivers attending the Newtown Community Health Centre in KZN. It has the potential to be used in complementary feeding and to improve the vitamin A status of infants.