Kenya leads in child nutrition

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A pupil of Tom Mboya Primary School in Dandora enjoys lunch on February 5, 2014. Kenya is the only country on the continent where data on child nutrition is available. Photo credit: Daily Nation.

Children in Kenya are fed the best diets in Africa, according to a World Health Organization report.

The report showed that Kenya is the only country on the continent where data on child nutrition is available, which has a percentage measure of over 20 per cent of the minimum acceptable diet proportion.

The study that was released in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, last week is a summary measure of diet quantity and quality for the child’s age and consumption of at least four food groups per day.

DIET
The proportion of children of ages 6-23 months who received a minimum acceptable diet is available for 32 countries for the period between 2010 and 2015.

According to WHO, the average consumption of the minimum acceptable diet is 8.6 per cent.

This measure is lowest in Guinea at 3.7 per cent and highest in Kenya at 21.8 per cent.

FEEDING

A total of 15 countries have percentages of 10 and above with six countries, among them Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea and Liberia, recording percentages below five per cent.

The report also indicated that countries have higher coverage for the frequentness of meals for certain age groups than for the variety in foods taken.

A total of 21 out of the 25 countries for which detailed information was available, met the threshold for adequate prevalence of feeding among children aged 6-23 months.

BIRTH WEIGHT
Only seven countries met the minimum recommended dietary variety for at least 30 per cent of children in the same age groups.

The WHO and its partners are exploring possible approaches to obtaining nationally representative data for minimum acceptable diet in all countries.

The same report ranked Kenya amongst countries that recorded the lowest percentages in low birth weight.

Kenya, at 7.6 per cent, was ranked 7th in Africa and the second in East Africa behind Rwanda (6.3 per cent), which was ranked second in Africa.

OVERWEIGHT
A number of overweight children in Africa increased by more than 50 per cent this year .

“While overweight rates in children might still be low, the proportion and numbers are increasing in all age groups,” Dr Adelheid Onyango, the WHO Africa’s Adviser for Nutrition, warned.

The report revealed that under-nutrition is still persistent in the region and stunted growth is on the rise.