Supplementary feeding of South African underweight children between 1 and 10 years of age with ready-to-use food to promote weight gain.
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The aim of this study was to investigate whether Sibusiso, a Ready Food Supplement (SRFS), developed by the Gift of the Givers Foundation was able to promote weight gain among underweight children between 1 and 10 years of age. The study also aimed to train CAST community workers on how to assess and identify underweight children and to determine the number of underweight children aged 1-10 years who were currently on the CAST food aid program in Cato Manor and Chesterville in Durban, Kwa Zulu-Natal. This non-randomised intervention study was carried out on a total of 19 out of 20 subjects that initially qualified for inclusion into the study. A monitoring tool was used to collect data on anthropometrical measurements, symptoms experienced, disease conditions identified, level of appetite, meal consumption and energy for each subject for a period of three months. Study subjects were from families living in Cato Manor and Chesterville in Durban, Kwa Zulu-Natal, who were part of a food aid programme run by non-governmental organisation Church Alliance of Social Transformation (CAST). SRFS was compared to Recommended Energy Allowances (REA) and Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) to determine the amount of energy and macronutrients that SRFS provided to subjects in their different age groups. The predominant health conditions and symptoms experienced by the subjects were assessed. General improvement in appetite, meal consumption and energy levels among subjects were monitored during the supplementation period Out of 19 subjects who were supplemented with SRFS over the three month period, it was established that more children from Chesterville than Cato Manor were part of the CAST food parcel programme. SRFS was not able to meet 100% of the RDA and REA for subjects in their different age groups. However, SRFS was able to promote weight among subjects as 50% of subjects were able to achieve normal weight-for-age growth by the third month of supplementation. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection was the predominant disease condition experienced among subjects. A steady decline in the frequency of infection symptoms experienced among subjects was observed. Appetite, meal consumption and energy levels among subjects increased during the three moth supplementation period. In conclusion, SRFS was successful in promoting weight gain among underweight children and was able to improve the overall wellbeing of subjects by alleviating the burden of disease conditions and infection symptoms while improving appetite, meal consumption and energy levels. SRFS therefore was beneficially utilised in the CAST food aid programme. SRFS had beneficial effects on the health and nutritional status of the study subjects during the observed period of its use in the CAST food aid programme and its continued use is recommended.