Poor dietary diversity and low nutrient density of the complementary diet for 6- to 24-month-old children in urban and rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.Matern Child Nutr. 2016 07; 12(3):528-45.MC
Infants and toddlers have high nutritional requirements relative to body size but consume small amounts of food and therefore need nutrient-dense complementary foods. A cross-sectional study included children aged 6-24 months, stratified in three age categories (6-11 months, 12-17 months and 18-24 months) and randomly selected from an urban (n = 158) and a rural (n = 158) area, both of low socio-economic status, in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. Dietary diversity and nutrient density of the complementary diet (excluding breast milk and formula milk) based on a repeated 24-h dietary recall was assessed. For breastfeeding children, nutrient density of the complementary diet was adequate for protein, vitamin A and vitamin C; and inadequate for 100% of children for zinc, for >80% of children for calcium, iron and niacin; and between 60% and 80% of children for vitamin B6 and riboflavin. Urban/rural differences in density for animal and plant protein, cholesterol and fibre occurred in 18-24-month-old children. Fewer than 25% of children consumed ≥4 food groups, with no urban/rural differences. Higher dietary diversity was associated with higher nutrient density for protein and several of the micronutrients including calcium, iron and zinc. The poor nutrient density for key micronutrients can probably be ascribed to lack of dietary variety, and little impact of mandatory fortification of maize meal/wheat flour on infants/toddlers' diet. Targeted strategies are needed to enable mothers to feed their children a more varied diet.