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Tanzan Health Res Bull. 2007 May;9(2):77-86.

Effect of germination of finger millet on nutritional value of foods and effect of food supplement on nutrition and anaemia status in Tanzanian children.

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Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre, Ocean Road, P.O. Box 977, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


Inadequate dietary intake, often combined with an infection can lead to malnutrition that often manifest as growth failure or deficiency of essentials nutrients including iron leading to iron deficiency anaemia. In an effort to investigate diet in relation to nutrition status of children, diet and dietary intake were investigated in rural Tanzania. The effect of germination of finger millet based food recipe on its nutritional value was evaluated. The food consisted of finger millet flour, kidney beans, ground peanuts and dried mangoes at predetermined proportions of 75:10:10:5 respectively. Dietary habits of young children were investigated and effects of a fortified food supplement and the cereal based recipe on nutrition status of children were investigated. The two diets were then supplemented to children for 6 months and changes on anaemia and anthropometrical indices of children were evaluated at follow up periods. To assess anaemia and iron status, haemoglobin (Hb), haematocrit (Hct), erythrocyte protoporphyrin (EP) and serum ferritin (SF); and weights and heights were measured to assess growth. A significant improvement in nutrient density was noted in processed cereals. Bioavailability of iron in cereal based diet increased from 0.75 +/- 18 to 1.25 +/- 41 mg/100 g (P = 008), viscosity was significantly raised by 12% and phytate concentration was reduced from 4.5 +/- 0.5 to 4.1 +/- 0.5 mg/g (P = 0.03). Significantly lower intake of iron was observed in schoolchildren with Hb < 11.5 g/dl) compared to those who were normal. Total iron intake was 22+/- 7 and 27 +/- 13 mg/day, respectively (P < 0.05). There was a significant correlation between iron intake and serum ferritin (r = 0.233, P < 0.05). After six months of supplementing children with the fortified beverage a significantly larger increase in haemoglobin concentration was shown in the fortified group than in the non-fortified group (a difference of 6.2 versus 3.2 g/dl respectively). Supplementing infants with the germinated cereal based food supplement showed a general improvement on Hb status and growth that was not significantly different to that in the control group (P > 0.05). In conclusion, consumption of foods with low iron bioavailability is a major cause of anaemia. Germination improves the nutritional value of foods however there is need to fortify such processed foods for infant feeding.

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