On Tuesday 11 April 2023, the Eat Better South Africa team, in collaboration with The Noakes Foundation and Inani StartWell Foundation, visited two Early Childhood Development Centres in Gugulethu as part of a pilot study on childhood stunting. The aim of the study is to evaluate the impact of a nutrition-focused product on children aged 1-3 years old. Using the Eat Better South Africa Programme model, which combines nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions. The study includes age-appropriate healthy eating activities for preschoolers and toddlers, fun food group games and activities, and education on healthy eating with accessible and affordable food choices for parents and guardians.
Over the course of the study, Inani Startwell Foundation will provide 300 young children between the ages of 1 and 3 with ‘better (not perfect)’ breakfast and lunch while assessing the effects of a nutrition-focused product on factors such as malnutrition, stunting, behaviour, and development.
The project is divided into three parts, with Eat Better South Africa providing the education programs, The Noakes Foundation responsible for research, data collection and report writing, and Inani StartWell Foundation is doing the product development and supplying the food to the schools. The research project evaluates the acceptability of the Inani Startwell porridge and how it positively affects early childhood development and prevents malnutrition and stunting.
A six-week nutrition and lifestyle education program will be run concurrently for the children, teachers and guardians. The program aimed at children will focus on improving their food education and enhancing their skills development, with the aim of cultivating healthier lifestyle habits from an early age and assessing their response to the educational materials provided. Additionally, a supplementary program will be offered to teachers and guardians, which will highlight the risks of excessive sugar and carbohydrate intake and offer guidance on making informed food choices through dietary education, meal and budget planning, and general nutritional awareness.
This pilot study on childhood stunting being conducted by the Eat Better South Africa team, in collaboration with The Noakes Foundation and Inani StartWell Foundation, is making great strides in its field. Childhood stunting is a prevalent issue in many isolated and poverty-stricken communities around the world, and it can have long-lasting consequences on a child’s health and development. Identifying effective interventions to address stunting is crucial for the well-being of children. Secondly, the study aims to evaluate the impact of a nutrition-focused product on children’s health and development, which can have important implications for food policy and nutrition education programs. By combining nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions and incorporating education for parents, guardians and teachers, the study takes a holistic approach to addressing the issue of childhood stunting.
We believe this study has the potential to inform and shape policies and interventions aimed at improving the health and well-being of young children living in isolated, rural and poverty-stricken communities around the world.
About the organisations:
Eat Better South Africa
Eat Better South Africa is a community-based non-profit organization working to improve the nutritional education of local community members in South Africa, through advocacy, activism and the implementation of nutrition education programmes that empowers community members to improve their health by making the best dietary choices available to them.
Eat Better South Africa aims to achieve this by educating people about the direct link between food and health, while equipping them with the necessary knowledge on how to live better, by eating better in reducing the overconsumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed, and other ultra-processed ‘junk’ foods and encourage the consumption of affordable sources of vegetables, fish, meats, and legumes. Learn more here: https://eatbetter.org.za/
The Noakes Foundation
The Noakes Foundation is an 18A-approved, non-profit organization based in Cape Town, South Africa, that was founded in 2012 by Professor Tim Noakes, a renowned sports scientist and researcher. The foundation’s mission is to promote a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet as a means of preventing and reversing chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The foundation conducts research, provides education and advocacy, and supports community initiatives that promote healthy eating habits. Its work has been influential in promoting the LCHF diet as a viable alternative to traditional low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets, and has helped to shift the focus of nutrition research towards the role of diet in chronic disease prevention.
The Noakes Foundation is a pioneer in promoting critical thinking and open-mindedness in academic and professional settings. In a world where censorship in academic institutions is becoming increasingly prevalent, it is important to have a platform that allows for the free flow of information and diverse perspectives. Censorship can stifle academic free speech and impede the flow of information and new approaches to problems within academic environments. We hope we can encourage academics and professionals to challenge established beliefs and ideas in their respective fields, promoting critical thinking and ultimately leading to progress and innovation.
The foundation’s work is driven by a commitment to social justice and the belief that everyone should have access to the knowledge and resources necessary to live a healthy life. Learn more here: The Noakes Foundation
Inani Startwell Foundation
The Inani StartWell Foundation is a South African NPO working to raise awareness and measurably contribute towards eliminating childhood stunting. The aim is to correct the “norm” that millions of vulnerable South African children, because of socio-economic circumstances, do not have access to food that is rich in growth nutrients during most of their critical developmental years. Learn more here: https://www.inaniswf.org/