In previous work, we observed that iron- and zinc-biofortified pearl millet (FeZn-PM; _30 ppm zinc) improves iron status compared with control pearl millet (Control-PM; _30 ppm zinc) improves iron status compared with control pearl millet (Control-PM; _22 ppm zinc) in a randomized trial in school-aged children in Maharashtra, India. This analysis was conducted to examine the effects of FeZn-PM on zinc concentrations and anthropometric measurements.
We conducted a randomized efficacy trial of FeZn-PM in 246 children (12-16 y) to determine effects on iron and zinc status compared to Control-PM. Participants were evaluated for zinc status and anthropometric indices at baseline, and followed-up at 4 and 6 months. Generalized estimating equations were used to evaluate the effects of the treatment on anthropometric measurements, and sex was considered as an effect modifier.
The mean weight gained was approximately two kilograms in the children participating in the study. There were no significant differences in weight, height, or body mass index (BMI) by treatment group. One-third of children were zinc deficient (<70 µg/dL) at baseline. Zinc concentrations significantly increased between baseline and 6 months in both Fe-PM [mean difference (CI), 45.5 µg/dL (37.2, 53.7)] and Control-PM [mean difference (CI), 42.9 µg/dL (34.2, 51.5)] groups, with no significant difference between the groups. The increase in zinc concentrations was significantly greater among girls (p=0.003), compared to boys.
The intervention did not have a significant impact on weight, height, and BMI during the six months of follow-up. The zinc concentrations in children participating in this trial improved after consumption of either the biofortified pearl millet or the control pearl millet and were significantly higher among girls.