Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) continues to be a major health problem in developing countries. In South Africa, in 1999, one out of three children under the age of six years in the country had poor/ marginal vitamin A status. Limpopo Province was one of the provinces that most seriously affected by VAD. The study aim was to explore and describe the consumption patterns of vitamin A-rich foods of 10-13 year old children living in a rural area in Venda, and consequently making recommendations on nutrition education in this regard. A survey was conducted in Vyeboom Village in Limpopo Province, at Makhado local municipality in the Vhembe District. About 155 school children aged 10-13 years (boys and girls) participated in this study, using convenience, random and stratified sampling to draw the sample from three primary schools (Avhatondwi, Tshirunzanani and Thomas Ntshavheni). Data was collected during winter of 2006 using a socio-demographic questionnaire, the 24-hour recall and non-quantitative food-frequency questionnaires. The data was divided into four subsections regarding the 10-13 year old children that participated in this study, namely: the demographic information, food habits, food consumption patterns, and foods consumed rich in vitamin A. The SAS statistical analysis (version 8.2) software was used to analyze the data from the questionnaire by means of descriptive statistics (percentages, frequencies, means and summary of the tables). Inferential statistics (two way tables and chi-square tests) were used to test the associations between two categorical variables. Mothers were the caretakers in the families, because she mostly played a major role in the decision-making, preparation and serving of the food that were consumed by these children. Social cultural factors influenced the children’s food intake, because some of these foods were especially low in vitamin A and high in sugar content (e.g. sweets), compared to those foods that children were forbidden to eat (e.g. liver) which were high in vitamin A and other nutrients. The foods that children were mostly forced to eat (dark green leafy vegetables) were very nutritious and given in order to prevent hunger and wastage (left-over in the morning). The general meal pattern of these children was three meals a day with two, one or no snacks in between meals. The mostly consumed foods during these meals were bread, tea, stiff and soft maize meal porridge, dark green leafy vegetables and meat (chicken). Dark green leafy vegetables played an important role in supplying beta-carotene to these children, while the intake of retinol-rich foods was poor because they are expensive and labeled as highly allergenic, whilst other foods were forbidden. Intake of fortified foods was very high because porridge was the staple food and commonly consumed during lunch and supper. The results provided insight regarding the food habits, consumption patterns and the intake of vitamin A rich foods and were used to substantiate recommendations aimed at the improvement of the intake vitamin A rich foods among the children.
Dissertation (MConsSci (General))--University of Pretoria, 2008.