PHNOM PENH, October 14, (Khmer Times) − Children in Cambodia score higher on cognitive tests and are less prone to fever and diarrhea after eating fortified rice regularly, according to a recent study.
The study examined 10,000 children from 20 different primary schools in Kampong Speu province over a six-month period. The children were randomly assigned to one of three groups that received either one of two types of fortified rice or regular unfortified rice.
The study was conducted by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), PATH and the Institut de Récherche pour le Developpement as part of a larger impact study on the effects of fortified rice globally.
The test results showed that fortified rice significantly improved children’s’ levels of vitamin A and zinc. A deficiency of these micronutrients can impair the immune system and increase the likelihood of death from common childhood illnesses.
“Because rice is the staple food in Cambodia, fortifying rice is an ideal way to help children and adults get the micronutrients they need without having to change their eating habits,” said Gianpietro Bordignon, country director for WFP.
“Malnutrition is a significant public health issue in Cambodia,” said Matthew Frey, senior project manager of maternal child health and nutrition for PATH. “Through this project, we hope to build on momentum for the introduction of fortified rice in Cambodia as an affordable means of improving the nutritional status of vulnerable Cambodians.”