Is your child malnourished? Does he or she need some “tulong pampatangkad?” Turn to local fruits and vegetables for help. Not only are they cheap; they are readily available as well.

But if, for some reason, you do not have ready-access to nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, you may use the complementary food blends developed by the Department of Science and Technology-Food Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) to address protein-energy malnutrition.

Complementary food is any nutrient-dense food given to babies starting six months of age two to three years old, while breastfeeding is continuous. Known as the multi-nutrient growth mix (MGM), these blends are packed with vitamins and minerals, affordable, and have longer shelf-life.

Three MGM variants were developed using locally-grown fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals. The three MGM variants developed re Carrot-Anchiovies, Yellow Sweet Potato Spinach and Squash-Banana blends.

These fruits and vegetables were individually processed and blended in different proportions until three MGM variants were acceptable. Acceptable formulations were selected based on sensory evaluation, raw materials cost, and estimated nutritional content.

The formulations were then standardized and stored at room temperature to determine shelf-life. A series of sensory evaluation were conducted during trials, optimization, standardization runs, and storage study of the products.

Chemical, physico-chemical, and microbiological analyses were also done during the storage study. The percent recommend energy and nutrient intakes (RENI) contribution for children ages 12-36 months are 6% energy, 15% protein, 37% vitamin A, 25% calcium, 3% iron, 8% zinc, and 75% iodine for Carrot-Anchovies blend.

complimentary food blends

Yellow Sweet Potato-Spinach blend contains 6% energy, 3% protein, 23% vitamin A, 12% iron, 9% zinc, and 49% iodine.

Squash-Banana blend provides 5% energy, 6% protein, 10% vitamin A, 34% calcium, 7% iron, 12% zinc, and 79% iodine. Sensory panelists rated the blends “like slightly” to “like moderately”.

Packed in laminated foil, the MGM was stable after one year of storage under room temperature. Underweight or stunted children 6 months to two years old, mothers and caregivers of underweight children, barangay health and nutrition workers, as well as small and medium scale enterprises can benefit from the technologies. A child is considered stunted when he or she is short in height compared to other children of the same age.

An estimated one-third of children five years old and below in developing countries like the Philippines are stunted as a result of long-term undernutrition. Results of the 2013 National Nutrition Survey (NNS) of DOST-FNRI showed that undernutrition persists among Filipino children. The survey likewise found that from 2008 to 2013, there was an increase in number of underweight children, and that anemia prevalence was at 55.7%, the highest prevalence being among infants 6 to 11 months old.

Appropriate complementary feeding starting six months of age and continuous breastfeeding up to two years is critical for children’s optimal growth and development. At six months, breastmilk alone is not enough to meet the increasing nutritional needs for proper growth and development.

A food-based strategy is a sustainable approach because it allows the mother, caregiver, and household to talk responsible control of the quality of their food by growing their own nutrient-rich foods. This strategy will also provide farmers with livelihood by planting local crops used in producing MGM.

Written by:
Rosemarie G. Garcia

Edited by:
Salvador R. Seramo

Published by:Department of Science and Technology-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII)