Energy and nutrient contribution of different food groups to the dietary intake of 6- to <9-month-old infants in a low socioeconomic community in North West Province, South Africa
Objective: A study was undertaken to determine the energy and nutrient contribution of different food groups to the dietary intake of 6- to <9-month-old infants.
Design: An observational study was conducted using baseline data of a preliminary randomised controlled trial that aimed to determine the effect of egg consumption on infant growth.
Setting and subjects: Participants resided in a peri-urban community (Jouberton) in North West province, South Africa. The study included 6- to <9-month-old infants (n = 155); 24-hour dietary recall data were available for n = 144.
Results: Most infants consumed either two (29.2%) or three (42.4%) out of eight food groups. The grains/roots/tubers group was consumed by 95.8% of infants; for consumers thereof, it contributed 75.5% of iron, 53.0% of thiamine and 42.5% of folate. Breast milk and dairy were consumed respectively by 64.4% of infants. For breastfed infants, breast milk was the major contributor of energy and fat, and some micronutrients (calcium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin and riboflavin); but they had lower intakes (p < 0.05) for all micronutrients except vitamin A compared with non-breastfed infants. For consumers (16.7%) of animal-source foods (ASFs), these contributed 42.8% for vitamin B12 and 33.4% for protein; and intake of
protein, riboflavin and vitamin B12 was higher (p < 0.05) for consumers compared with non-consumers. The least consumed food groups were legumes (0.7%), flesh foods (6.9%) and eggs (10.4%).
Conclusion: Grains/roots/tubers, dairy and breast milk made a major contribution to the intake of key nutrients. Animal-source foods were not consumed frequently, but for consumers thereof made a substantial contribution as well.
Recommendation: Strategies to improve dietary diversity should encourage continued breastfeeding, aim to increase intake of food groups not frequently consumed and promote locally available food.
Keywords: dietary diversity, food groups, infants, nutrient adequacy, nutrient contribution, South Africa
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