Incorporation of sweetpotatoes into diets of children aged 6-59 months in Trans-Mara East Sub-County, Narok County, Kenya

Sweetpotato versatility, drought tolerance, resistance to diseases and its great contribution to food security makes it an important staple food in the developing countries. Poor soil productivity, insufficient soil moisture, diseases, pests and erratic rainfall, among other factors accelerates food insecurity in arid and semi-arid areas. There is, however, limited information on sweetpotato utilization and contribution to nutrient adequacy especially in children under-five years in Narok County. A cross-sectional study was carried out in January to February 2018 to determine the consumption of sweetpotatoes and their contribution to nutrient adequacy in the diets of 211 children aged between 6-59 months. The study consisted of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. The data obtained was analysed using SPSS version 20, Nutrisurvey 2007 software and ENA for SMART 2011 software. White-fleshed sweetpotato was the most popular variety in Trans-Mara East. Majority of the respondents (70.6%) had their children on a diet inclusive of sweetpotatoes while the remaining (29.4%) respondents’ children were not on such diet. The most common mode of sweetpotato preparation reported was boiling (88.6%) while 11.4% fried. There was no significant difference (Independent sample t-test=2.2, df =208, p>0.05) between mean dietary diversity scores for the children reported to consume diets with sweetpotatoes and those who were reported not to consume diets with sweetpotatoes. Lack of sweetpotato consumption led to significant (p<0.05) reduction in the iron intake with R2 of 0.26 and beta of -5.4. Consumption of sweetpotatoes did not result in any significant difference (p>0.05) in the intake of calcium, vitamin A, zinc, carbohydrates, fibre and protein. There was no significant association between wasting status (χ2=4, df=2, P>0.05), underweight status (χ2=0.6, df=2, P>0.05) stunting status (χ2=2, df=2, P>0.05) and sweetpotato consumption. There is great potential of sweetpotatoes utilization in this region, yet its consumption by children is poor. There is need for increased promotion efforts to increase frequency of sweetpotato consumption, by formulating various ways of making delicious recipes.
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Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Working document series
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Open Access
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Web resource