Alleviating Childhood Malnutrition by Improved Utilization of Traditional Foods (WINFOOD)


Start date: 30 September, 2008 End date: 30 December, 2013 Project type: Larger strategic projects (prior to 2013) Project code: 57-08-LIFE Countries: Cambodia Kenya Thematic areas: Food security and safety, Health, Lead institution: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Partner institutions: University of Nairobi (UoN), Kenya Fisheries Administration of Cambodia, Cambodia Policy Brief: Policy Brief Project coordinator: Kim Fleischer Michaelsen Total grant: 11,128,441 DKK

Project summary

Overall aim: to develop nutritionally improved foods for infants and young children in low-income countries, based on improved utilization of traditional foods (semi-domesticated and wild indigenous foods from uncultivated land or aquatic environment), together with improved traditional food technologies (e.g. fermentation). These foods are dubbed “WINFOODs”. The WINFOOD concept will be developed through parallel studies in the “model countries” Cambodia and Kenya. Based on the results, generic guidelines for a feasible, efficient, safe and environmentally sustainable nutritional intervention strategy for improved childhood nutrition based on improved utilisation of traditional foods will be developed. Specific objectives: The specific objectives are: 1) to identify traditional foods (review, survey); 2) to identify iron and zinc dense foods (nutrient analysis); 3) to develop culturally accepted nutrient-dense meals for children (linear programming); 4) optimise the meals for iron bioavailability (in vitro systems); 5) testing for efficacy for improving child nutritional status, and; 6) develop guidelines for dissemination through collaboration with national stakeholder groups (human intervention studies). Background: More than 10 million children die each year in developing countries, half of them due to underlying malnutrition, mainly because the typical diet lacks diversity with little vegetable and fruit, and little or no animal source foods. This diet has a low energy and nutrient density and low bioavailability of iron, zinc, and vitamin A. Present interventions for improved child nutrition are dominated by supplementation and food-fortification. The safety of iron-supplementation to children has been questioned, as it may increase morbidity and mortality. Improved diet quality is a safe and sustainable intervention. In many developing countries, the poor may already occasionally take traditional foods (wild plants, fish, mollusc, insects etc.). Through a systematic approach to improve the utilisation of nutrient dense traditional foods an underutilised source for improved child nutrition will be available. Output: Country specific and generic guidelines for the development of “WinFoods” which can be produced on household level or by SMEs.


Project Completion Report:

The WinFood project have successfully brought together an interdisciplinary research group in Cambodia, Kenya and Denmark, and identified how locally available foods can be used for improved feeding of children during the critical phase of complementary feeding. Specifically the portential of using insects and other arthropodes as an alternative protein source has been highlighted. By applying highly advanced research methodology the project has contributed significant capacity building in partner countries, and have provided new understanding of prevention of undernutrition. The conclusion from Cambodia is that nutritous local foods can contribute significantly to improve dietary quality, but also that a level of fortification with micronutrients appears to be needed to meet nutrient requirements, especially iron. The conclusion in Kenya supported this conclusion. The study provided evidence that local products can exchange imported food aid products, and that a rice and fish based product are equal to support growth to a milk based imported product. Major stakeholders including World Food Programme consider that the results can support a shift to a future supply of locally produced products. In Kenya, the results have shown that especially insects holds a portential as alternative source of animal-source food, envisaging a shift from being recognised as a traditional food item collected from wild sources, to be a domisticated food source.

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