Proof of concept
A Healthy Diet for the Children of Campus Challenge
The following results from a research project in India show a clear relationship between the adaptation of the improved diet with locally available products and improvement of the condition and growth of the children involved.
First aim of the project was to improve the menu of 120 disabled children, aged 8-13 years and their caretakers, all living at ‘Campus Challenge’ in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. With a well-defined process the project was able to show significant health effects.
Assessment of the current dietary habits showed that intake of protein, carbohydrates and magnesium was sufficient and that calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin C and zinc needed some attention. Strong attention was needed for: overall energy intake, fat, fibres, potassium, selenium, vitamin A and B vitamins.
These findings were confirmed in part by the medical check. More than half of the group and especially girls suffered from stunted growth (too small for age) and more than 80% of the children had anaemia, which reduces well-being, causes fatigue and lethargy, and impaired physical capacity and work performance.
Local food availability was assessed and proved to be adequate to ensure improvement of the menu, without supplementation. The local team implemented a revised menu in 2015, based on the provided recommendations.
Nutritional health of the children was again assessed 3-6 months after implementation of the new menu. Results were above expectations, especially regarding anaemia, which dropped from 82 to 31%. A medical check in 2018 showed further improvement with a drop in prevalence of anaemia to 14%, comparable to the situation in developed countries.
This intervention shows that health can be improved by an adapted diet based on local available foods. Supplements, sprinkles or enriched products are often used, but don’t contribute to sustainable, affordable and healthier dietary habits.
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