Protein-energy malnutrition among children is a global problem. It is more devastating in developing countries because of high poverty level among rural dwellers. Akpuoga Nike is a typical rural community where social amenities are lacking, commercial and income generation activities are very low. Majority of the people engage in subsistence farming and petty trading. Consequently they cannot afford animal protein due to its high cost. The aims of the study were to find out the use of soy bean products as source of protein for children under-five by mothers in Akpuoga Nike and also to determine their positive and negative attitudes towards the use in the nutrition of their children nutrition. Descriptive survey research design was used to carry out the study on 100 women of childbearing age attending Akpuoga Nike Health Centre. Researchers developed interview guide and focus group discussion were instruments used for data collection. Sixty percent of the respondents fed their children with soy bean products while 40% had never used any. In their mean rating, the respondents agreed that soy bean products have positive features such as being cheap, nutritive and a good alternative source of animal protein. While the negative features identified were; not easy to prepare, foul odor/taste and abdominal upset and flatulence. Soy products provide excellent sources of disease busting antioxidants, B. vitamins (including folate) and iron. They remain good alternative sources of animal protein in child nutrition especially in poverty stricken rural communities and mothers should be counseled on their use in the nutrition of their children.
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Protein-energy malnutrition is one of the greatest problems facing the world today. World Health Organization (2003) estimates that about 150 million children under five years of age in developing countries are malnourished and an additional 200 million have stunted growth. In, 2000, WHO estimated that malnourished children numbered 18 million (32%) in developing countries, while estimated 149.6 million children under 5 are malnourished when measured in terms of weight for age. This figure is five times the prevalence in the Western world (WHO, 2003). Following the reports published by FAO (2001), at least 500 million children living in the worlds sixty poorest nations suffer from chronic malnutrition which permanently retards their growth.
Economically, the Nigerian child has been the victim of low purchasing power of the parents. The gross domestic product (GDP) has declined over the years and this has a lot of implications to child care and nutrition as most families cannot provide nutritious foods for their members. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture in Nigeria in the year, 2000, observed that in the national food balance sheet, the protein constituent of the diet of the average Nigerian was quite inadequate. It becomes imperative therefore, that our diets especially those of our children should be enriched with affordable essential food nutrients which is available in soy bean products.
Soy bean has been severally called the wonder bean, the meat of the soil and the richest source of protein ever known to man. It is also described as the only vegetable which gives complete protein, which is identical to all forms of animal protein and can be prepared in a variety of ways-soy milk, powder, cakes, among others. It contains the eight essential amino acids and is a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (including the good fat-omega 3) and is free of cholesterol (FAO, 2001).
Soy products provide an excellent source of disease busting antioxidants, B. vitamins (including folate) and iron (Zhan and Ho, 2005). McVeigh et al. (2006) have proven that soy protein can promote heart health.
A number of studies confirm that infants fed soy-based formulas show normal growth and development (Seppo et al., 2005). Soy based nutrition during infancy has a long history of safe use around the world dating back centuries. The first report of soy based infant formula in the West was in 1990 (Ruhrah, 1990) and soy based formulas were used in cases of infantile eczema as early as in the, 1920s (Hill and Stuart in Butter, 1929). Some evidence has also shown that soy bean intake during adolescence may reduce the risk of breast cancer later in life, (WU et al., 2002: Trock et al., 2006).
Researchers however show that the consumption of soy bean in Nigeria has been low and that cases of malnutrition are still high especially in the rural areas as eggs, meat, milk, fish etc. have become unaffordable by more than 80% of the population (FMA, 2005). There is then need for cheaper protein food options to augment and enrich the starch-based diet of most rural Nigerian families. This then necessitated this study, to find out whether the women in Akpuoga Nike, use this soy bean as well as their positive and negative attitudes towards its use in child nutrition.
Akpuoga Nike is a rural community located in Enugu East Local Government, within Ujodo Development Council of Enugu State. It has an estimated population of three thousand (3000) people with 900 of the population being women of reproductive age. As a typical rural community it lacks basic social amenities such as good roads, water supply and electricity among others and has only one functioning health centre. Main occupation of the people is subsistent farming and petty trading with resultant low income.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This study was a descriptive survey comprising 100 women of child bearing age (15-45 years) attending Akpuoga Nike Health Centre in Enugu State, South Eastern Nigeria. Convenience non probability sampling method was used to select the sample size.
Researchers developed questionnaire and focus group discussions were instruments used for data collection. The Likerts five point scale was used for the attitudinal validity. Its reliability was tested through test re-test method and correlation coefficient test yielded.0.89 at 0.5 level of significance (r = 0.89).
A total of 100 questionnaires were retrieved and analyzed.
The group means±SD were calculated and significant difference between means evaluated by analysis of variance (ANOVA). Post test analysis was done using the Tukey-Krammer multiple comparison tests. Values of P < 0.05 were considered as statistically significant.
Table 1 shows the age distribution of respondents, 70% of the respondents are within the age range of 25-34 years. While 60% of respondents have no formal education, 10% of them had tertiary education (Table 2). Majority of the respondents are involved in trading (58%) as shown in Table 3. Seventy percent of the respondents earn N 20,000.00 and below, while only 10% have an income of 31,000 and above as shown (Table 4). Sixty percent (60%) of the respondents agreed that they feed their babies with soy bean products while 40% indicated that they have never used any form of soy bean products in the nutrition of their children. The respondents in their mean rating agreed that soy bean has positive features like being accessible, cheap and nutritive and a good alternative of protein (Table 5a).
|Table 1:||Age distribution of respondents|
|Table 2:||Educational level of respondents|
|Table 3:||Occupation of respondents|
|Table 4:||Respondents income|
|Table 5a:||Mean rating responses to positive features of soy bean products|
|Table 5b:||Mean rating responses to features of soy bean products according to age|
|Table 5c:||Mean rating responses to positive features of soy bean products according to educational status|
|ANOVA Test of|
|Table 5d:||Mean rating responses to positive features of soy bean products according to occupation|
|Table 5e:||Mean rating responses to positive features of soy bean products according to their status of income.|
|Table 6a:||Mean rating responses to negative features of soy bean products|
|Table 6b:||Mean rating responses to negative features of soy bean products according o age|
|Table 6c:||Mean rating responses to negative features of soy bean products according to educational level|
|Table 6d:||Mean rating responses to negative features of soy bean products according to occupation|
|Table 6e:||Mean rating responses to negative features of soy bean products according to their income status|
ANOVA tests showed significant differences (P < 0.5) in their mean rating to the positive features in terms of Age (Table 5b); Educational status (Table 5c); occupation (Table 5d) and Income (Table 5e), respectively.
The respondents in their mean rating also agreed that soy bean has negative features (Table 6a). According to their rating, soy bean is not easy to prepare, has foul odor and taste, causes abdominal flatulence, stomach upset, diarrhea and vomiting. ANOVA tests showed significant differences (P < 0.05) in their mean rating to the negative features in terms of Age (Table 6b); Educational level (Table 6c) and occupation (Table 6d), respectively; but no significant difference (P < 0.05) in terms of income (Table 6e).
This descriptive survey examined the need for mothers to use soy bean products as a cheap alternative source of protein in their child nutrition.
From the respondents mean rating to positive features of soy bean products, soy bean has positive features like being cheap, accessible, a good alternative to protein and is nutritive. This result supports the findings of Abiodun (1991) who found that soy beans products are of high nutritive value and readily available at a cheap rate. Also the finding is in line with the findings of Quak and Tan (1998) who observed that Asian mothers prefer to use soy products during weaning because of its availability, soft consistency and high nutritional value.
The subjects however disagreed to the therapeutic effect of soy bean products as evidenced in their mean rating. This result differs from the findings of Abiodun (1991) who found that commercially available soymilk and home made soymilk have been shown to decrease the severity and duration of diarrhea while stimulating weight gain. Other studies have cited the health benefits of soy beans products. Studies on the use of soy bean products in children have shown that soy eases constipation (Lacono et al., 1998), combats diarrhea and lowers high cholesterol (Widhalm et al., 1993).
The findings of this study could probably be attributed to the level of education of the subjects as majority of them had no formal education. Subjects means rating to the positive features in terms of age, educational status, occupation and income showed that there were significant differences between means. This means that the variables under study had a significant influence on the positive features of soy beans products.
This result supports the findings of Adetayo et al. (2001) who found a significant relationship between age, education, occupation and the use of soy bean products.
On the negative features of soy bean, subjects in their mean rating also agreed that Soy bean products are not easy to prepare, has foul odor and taste and causes abdominal flatulence, stomach upset, diarrhea and vomiting. This result differs from the findings of Abiodun (1991) who found that soy bean products are easy to prepare and are well tolerated. The result does not also support the findings of Quak and Tan (1998) who observed that Asian mothers preference for the use of soy milk was due to its high palatability. Also studies by researchers at the University of Illinois have found that soy beans-enhanced food can add variety to childrens diets without sacrificing nutrient value, taste and energy (Endres et al., 2004). Although findings on the negative features of soy beans seem to be in line with claims from the opponents of soy bean products which stated that use of soy beans are not appropriate foods for infants or children because of its adverse health effects (Neustaedter, 2004).
Also there has been no published human research to support the claim that soy bean has adverse effects on Asian children or other children who consume it (Chapman, 2004).
Subjects means rating to negative features in terms of age, education level and occupation, respectively showed significant differences. However, there was no significant difference in terms of income status. This means that their level of income had no significant influence on their mean rating to negative features of soy bean. Any observed difference is due to chance.
Based on the above findings and discussions, there is need for advocacy to the mothers on the use of soy bean products to improve the diets of their children who are at high risk for consuming a protein nutrient-poor diet.
Conclusion: Soy bean products remain an important alternative source of protein for children in rural communities such as Akpuoga Community in Enugu State. This is because it is cheaper than animal protein, accessible and nutritive for such low income population where seventy percent of the population earns less than twenty thousand naira per month.
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