By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Indian children are capable of registering a high growth rate provided they get a well-balanced nutritional diet during the schooling years.
A study conducted by the city-based National Institute of Nutrition showed micronutrient-rich supplement would increase tissue growth and skeletal shell in apparently normal children. School-children who received micronutrient-rich food recorded growths up to three cm in height and four kgs in weight during the 14 months of study as compared with children fed with regular normal diet.
The NIN carried out the study among residential school-children, between six and 16 years of age, in Hyderabad. As many as 268 children were selected randomly from two classes of each grade (1 to 9) and were provided a micronutrient-enriched beverage. While 146 got the micronutrient-rich beverage, 122 children received a placebo drink.
Bone parametres and bone area at various sites and the entire body were measured with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at the beginning and end of the study.
After 14 months, increments for height, weight, fat-free mass, percentage of fat, whole-body bone mineral content, whole-body bone area and bone mass density at the neck of the femur were significantly greater in the supplemented group than in the placebo group.
NIN deputy director Veena Shatrugna, who conducted the research study, told this correspondent that diets in the boarding school provided 745 mg/d of calcium, including the calcium from milk used to reconstitute the respective supplements.
This is the first time that data on bone parametres in children between the ages six and 16 years is reported from India. The baseline values appear to correspond to reported values from the West. In addition, the beneficial effects of an additional calcium intake of 224 mg with other micronutrients in the supplemented group compared with the placebo group have been demonstrated, she pointed out.
The children in this study belonged to middle-income group from the semi-urban areas of Hyderabad with apparent adequate intake of energy and protein, but intakes of vitamin A, iron, folate, thiamin, and niacin were less than 60 per cent of recommended dietary allowance and calcium intakes were only 700 mg/d which is much below the Western RDAs.
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