Cassava roots are a good source of calories in the tropics. However, they lack most of the other nutrients such as Zinc, Iron and Vitamin A. Populations that solely rely on cassava are therefore prone to suffer deficiencies from most of these nutrients. With the extensive promotion of cassava production in Coastal Kenya, this study was conducted to understand the contribution of cassava in nutrition of 2-5 years old children in Coastal Kenya. The average amount of cassava consumed by each child every consumption time was assessed, and the calories and protein energy derived from that amount calculated and expressed as percentage of Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for age and sex. Dietary diversity and immunization status were assessed, and nutritional status measured. A cross-sectional descriptive survey with some analytical component was carried out in Coastal Kenya. The study subjects were 220 children selected through systematic random sampling. The findings showed that 98% of the households fed their children with cassava. At every consumption time, children obtained 22% of their daily energy requirement from cassava. Among the available cassava based products, boiled roots were the most frequently consumed and provided the highest amount of calories every consumption time, while the leaves, although moderately consumed, provided the highest amount of protein. The mean dietary diversity score of the children was 5.2 with a standard deviation of 1.45. Most of the children consumed protein rich foods more than three times in a week. Prevalence of stunting was 29%, while prevalence of wasting and underweight was 10% and 8%, respectively. The study concluded that cassava serves as a good source of energy for households in Coastal Kenya. Consumption of cassava does not lead to malnutrition, but over-dependence on it without adequate dietary diversification pre-disposes one to the risk of dietary deficiencies.
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RUFORUM Working document series
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