Protein-quality evaluation of complementary foods in Indian children

Authors : Shivakumar N, Kashyap S, Kishore S, Thomas T, Varkey A, Devi S, Preston T, Jahoor F, Sheshshayee MS, Kurpad AV

Publication Year : 2019

Abstract :

The types of food in complementary feeding of infants and young children are important for growth and development. Food protein quality, as measured by the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS), requires the determination of true ileal digestibility of indispensable amino acids (IAAs) in children.

First, the aim of this study was to measure the true ileal IAA digestibility of 4 (rice, finger millet, mung bean, and hen egg) commonly consumed complementary foods in children aged less than 2 y using the dual-isotope tracer method. Second, we calculated the DIAAS of complementary feeding diets and their relation to stunting in a representative Indian rural population.

Rice, finger millet, and mung bean were intrinsically labeled with deuterium oxide (2H2O), whereas egg was labeled through oral dosing of hens with a uniformly 2H-labeled amino acid mixture. True ileal IAA digestibility was determined by the dual-isotope tracer technique. The DIAAS of complementary food protein was calculated in children aged 1-3 y from a nationally representative survey to evaluate its relation with stunting.

True ileal IAA digestibility was lowest in mung bean (65.2% ± 7.1%), followed by finger millet (68.4 %± 5.3%) and rice (78.5% ± 3.5%), and was highest for egg (87.4% ± 4.0%). There was a significant inverse correlation of complementary food DIAAS with stunting in survey data (r = -0.66, P = 0.044). The addition of egg or milk to nationally representative complementary diets theoretically improved the DIAAS from 80 to 100.

The true ileal IAA digestibility of 4 foods commonly consumed in complementary diets showed that the DIAAS was associated with stunting and reinforces the importance of including animal source food (ASF) in diets to improve growth.