An unbalanced diet, which consists mainly of basic staple foods rich in starch and low in nutrients, can lead to malnutrition. Scientists from the University of the Pacific in California, with the support of the Statistics Office in Uganda, investigated how the extent of the consumption of basic staple foods can be related to growth retardations in Ugandan children. The calculation was based on health data from 3,427 children under 5 years from the Uganda National Panel Survey as well as information on expenditure on foods in Ugandan households. Data Ugandan basic foodstuffs such as cassava, beans, potatoes, maize and matooke (green cooking bananas) was collected and classed regionally and by districts. Especially cassava, but also white maize and many other common staple foods contain large amounts of starch and usually little essential (micro)nutrients. In other words: they make you full, but do not provide the body with enough vitamins and minerals.
The evaluation showed that the higher the share of household costs for the procurement of basic food, the greater was the likelihood that the children will be stunned. This was the result of calculations that found that 10 % of budget spending for basic food increased the chances of stunting in children by 7 %. The scientists were referring to a WHO’s diet profile for Uganda, according to which most households spend the bulk of their budgets on basic staple food. According to this, Ugandan people are consuming vegetables only three times a week, fruits less than twice a week and meat and eggs less than once a week .
MM Ameral et al. Using the Uganda National Panel Survey to analyze the effect of staple food consumption on undernourishment in Ugandan children. BMC Public HealthBMC Series. Published: 19 July 2017. 18(1):32 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4576-1. Available via: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-017-4576-1