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Beta-carotene–rich orange-fleshed sweet potato improves the vitamin A status of primary school children assessed with the modified-relative-dose-response test1–3

Background: -Carotene–rich orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) is an excellent source of provitamin A. In many developing countries, sweet potato is a secondary staple food and may play a role in controlling vitamin A deficiency.

Objective: The objective was to determine the efficacy of daily consumption of boiled and mashed OFSP in improving the vitamin A status of primary school children.

Design: Children aged 5–10 y were randomly assigned to 2 groups. The treatment group (n  90) consumed 125 g boiled and mashed OFSP (1031 retinol activity equivalents/d as -carotene), and the control group (n  90) consumed an equal amount of white-fleshed sweet potato devoid of -carotene for 53 school days. All children were dewormed to exclude helminthic infection. The modifiedrelative-dose-response test for vitamin A status was conducted before and after intervention.

Results: The estimated intervention effect for the ratio of 3,4- didehydroretinol to retinol (DR:R) was 0.008 (95% CI: 0.015, 0.001; P  0.0203), which indicated a greater improvement in vitamin A liver stores in the treatment group than in the control group. The proportions of children with normal vitamin A status (DR:R 0.060) in the treatment group tended to increase from 78% to 87% (P  0.096) and did not change significantly (from 86% to 82%) in the control group (P  0.267). These proportions were not used to test the intervention effect or within-group changes because the study was powered to test the intervention effect on DR:R. Conclusions: Consumption of OFSP improves vitamin A status and can play a significant role in developing countries as a viable longterm food-based strategy for controlling vitamin A deficiency in children. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:1080 –7. KE

Authors: Paul Jaarsveld , Penelope Nestel , Carl Lombard , Ambrose J Spinnler Benadé, Mieke Faber, Paul Jaarsveld , Penelope Nestel , Carl Lombard , Ambrose J Spinnler Benadé, Mieke Faber

Pages: 8

Publication Date: 2005

Keywords: Beta-carotene, School feeding, South Africa, Vitamin A