Background: Inadequate energy and nutrient intakes are a major nutritional problem in developing countries. A recent study in Beninese school-aged children in different seasons revealed a high prevalence of stunting and poor iron status that might be related to the food pattern. Objective: To analyse the food pattern and resulting energy and nutrient intakes of rural Beninese school-aged children in relation to season and school attendance. Subjects and methods: The study was performed in northern Benin in eighty randomly selected children aged 6¿8 years. Dietary intake was assessed using observed weighed records. Food, energy and nutrient intakes were measured in post- and pre-harvest seasons. Complete food consumption data sets were available for seventy-five children. Results: Food pattern showed seasonal variations. Cereals, roots and tubers were the main staple foods. Contributions of animal products to the diet were very small. The food pattern was not different for either boys v. girls or for children attending v. not attending school. Median daily energy intakes were 5?0 and 5?3 MJ in the post- and pre-harvest season, respectively. Only fat and vitamin C showed seasonal differences (P,0?05). Energy and nutrient intakes were different for boys and girls but, unexpectedly, not for children attending v. not attending school. Conclusions: Seasonal variations in food pattern did not result in seasonality in energy and nutrient intakes. Because the children¿s diet was low in animal products, protein, fat and vitamin C and high in fibre, the absorption of fat, fatsoluble vitamins, carotenoids, Fe and Zn might be low. Fe and Zn bioavailability from such a diet needs further investigation.
- bioavailable iron
- phytic acid