Want your kids to grow taller? Give each an egg a day or so a study carried out in Ecuador by Lora Iannotti and colleagues suggests. The result of the study is published in Paediatric Journal. It does not really matter so much how the eggs are prepared, be they soft or hard-boiled, fried or whisked into omelettes, eggs appear to give infants a growth boost, a very economical way to prevent stunting in children.
One hundred and sixty malnourished children age between six to nine living in the rural highlands of Ecuador took part in the study. Half (80) of the children were fed an egg a day for six months, the other half were monitored for comparison. Families of children taking part in the study were visited every week to ensure that they are following the plan and to check for any problems or side-effects, including egg allergy.
The study found that stunting was less common (47% less prevalent) among children that were fed an egg every day compared to the control (children not fed egg every day); even though relatively more of these egg-fed infants were considered short for their age at the start of the study. Some of the children in the control group did eat eggs, but nowhere near as many as the treatment group.
Lead researcher Ms Iannotti said: “We were surprised by just how effective this intervention proved to be.
“And what’s great is it’s very affordable and accessible for populations that are especially vulnerable to hidden hunger or nutritional deficiency.” She further added that eggs were great food for young children with small stomachs.
“Eggs contain a combination of nutrients, which we think is important.”
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According to an entry in encyclopaedia.com, stunting is the body’s response to a lack of adequate nutrition, as the child’s body attempts to limit weight gain and linear growth. It could be caused by factors such as malnutrition and infections. Some of the observed consequences of stunting in children, the article continues, are metabolic changes, depressed immune function, morbidity, mortality, delayed motor skills, delayed and irregular school attendance, low cognitive scores, and poor academic achievement. Adults with a history of stunting are at risk for obesity, reduced glucose tolerance, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis, as well as decreased work performance and productivity, thereby limiting economic capacity.
Stunting, unfortunately, is irreversible hence the more urgent need to pay attention to children’s diet especially in the first two years of growth. Giving your child an egg a day is only one part of the puzzle. The key to normal growth is ensuring that the child’s diet meets their nutritional requirement through a healthy diet also known as a balanced diet.