We examine the potential impact of fortification of locally-produced sunflower oil to alleviate vitamin A deficiency in deficient regions
We surveyed 568 households prior to commencing local fortification of unrefined sunflower oil by small and medium enterprises. We collected data on one index child per household, using a quasi-experimental design (with intervention and control districts for fortification). In one region, unrefined sunflower oil is the preferred edible oil, and in the other vegetable and imported palm oils predominate. We collected information on household assets, dietary diversity, patterns of oil consumption, knowledge, attitudes and practices concerning vitamin A, serum retinol of the child, and retinol content of oil at the household level.
Households buy oil very frequently. In 80% of households in both regions, oil purchases last for a week or less. In one of the two regions, 60% of households only buy enough oil for one day. Results will be available on the effect of asset status (poverty index) on child’s vitamin A status. More than 90% of mothers have heard of vitamin A (primarily from the mega-dose distribution), but have very limited awareness of the potential of fortification to improve diet.
In these circumstances, fortification of locally-produced oil is expected to have a positive impact on vitamin A status of children and to be a good vehicle to reach poor households. This is particularly important as coverage with the vitamin A mega-dose is becoming more difficult due to local budgetary issues.