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J Nutr. 2004 May;134(5):1084-90.

Processed complementary food does not improve growth or hemoglobin status of rural tanzanian infants from 6-12 months of age in Kilosa district, Tanzania.

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  • 1Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, Faculty of Agriculture and Applied Biological Sciences, Ghent University, B-9000 Ghent-Belgium.


A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was conducted from March 2001 to March 2002 involving 309 infants who received either a processed complementary food (CF) or an unprocessed placebo from 6 to 12 mo of age. The groups were comparable in baseline characteristics. The study took place in Kilosa district, Tanzania. The processed CF contained germinated, autoclaved, and dried finger millet (65.2%), kidney beans (19.1%), roasted-peanuts (8%), and mango purée (7.7%). The same blend, but not processed, served as the placebo. Processing increased iron solubility and energy density without affecting viscosity. Mean length for age, weight for age, hemoglobin, and zinc protoporphyrin at 6 and 12 mo did not differ between the 2 groups. The results show that the processed food did not differ from the unprocessed placebo in improving growth, hemoglobin, and iron status of infants when given under the study conditions. The control group consumed equal amounts of macronutrients, and the higher energy density in this study did not seem to have any benefits. In our study, there was a very intensive follow-up; at every encounter with mothers, giving the required amounts and adding extra lipids was strongly reinforced. Under those conditions, a well-balanced complementary food with additional lipids can meet the energy needs of young children. The reduction in phytates by 34% and improvement in iron solubility to 19% due to processing might not have been enough to compensate for the rather low iron content of the complementary food.

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