World Vision International
article • Wednesday, October 10th 2012

Sweet Potatoes Improve Vitamin A Intake

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Orange Sweet Potato Improves Vitamin A Intake in Mozambique

World Vision Mozambique was one of two implementing partners, leading the agricultural and marketing components. World Vision worked in collaboration with Helen Keller International, who supported the demand creation component, and HarvestPlus, who provided overall coordination. “We’ve now shown that you can scale up efforts to distribute orange sweet potato to poor rural communities and see this translate into increased orange sweet potato and vitamin A intakes especially in women and children, who are most vulnerable to mineral and vitamin deficiencies,” says Dr. Christine Hotz, former HarvestPlus Nutrition Coordinator who led the study. “It’s a powerful approach using agriculture to improve nutrition and public health.”A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed how an agriculture/nutrition intervention—growing traditionally-bred orange sweet potato—increased the vitamin A intake of children and women in Zambézia Province, Mozambique, an area where vitamin A deficiency is high. Vitamin A deficiency can cause impaired immune defenses and eye damage that can lead to blindness and even death.

Highlights:

  • Increased vitamin A intakes and decrease in inadequate vitamin A intakes in all target groups (children 3–36 months, children 3–5 years and women), mainly because of direct substitution of orange sweet potatoes for white and yellow sweet potatoes. This is remarkable considering the small portions young children eat.
  • By project end, OSP provided more than 70% of all dietary vitamin A and was the third most important food in the diet (after maize and rice) for young children.
  • Conducting group-level trainings in nutrition and agriculture for orange sweet potatoes during the first year of the three-year project was as effective as conducting training each year.

Link to the Abstract (Retrieved June 21, 2012)

For more information on orange-fleshed sweet potatoes on the HarvestPlus website, click here.

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