Eating millets leads to better growth in children : Scientific evidence

HYDERABAD, May 29: Researchers examining the nutritional benefits of millets have found that the ‘smart foods’ can boost growth in children and adolescents by 26 ? 39 percent when they replace rice in standard meals.
The results suggest that millets can significantly contribute to overcoming malnutrition.
The study was published recently in the journal Nutrients and is a review and meta-analysis of eight prior published studies. It was undertaken by seven organizations in four countries and was led by Dr. S Anitha, Senior Scientist-Nutrition at the International Crops Research Institute of the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
These results are attributable to the naturally high nutrient content of millets that exhibit high amounts of growth promoting nutrients, especially total protein, sulphur containing amino acids, and calcium in the case of finger millets, said Dr. Anitha.
Infants, preschool and school going children as well as adolescents were part of the review. Five of the studies in the review used finger millet, one used sorghum and two used a mixture of millets (finger, pearl, foxtail, little and kodo millets).
Among the children fed millet-based meals, a relative increase of 28.2% in mean height, 26% in weight, 39 percent in the mid upper arm circumference and 37 percent in chest circumference was noted when compared to children on regular rice-based diets. The children studied consumed millets over 3 months to 4.5 years. (PTI)
These findings provide evidence that nutrition intervention programs can be developed and adapted to increase diversity in meals using millets, and thus to improve the nutritional content, including in school feeding and mother and child programs, said Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT. (PTI)
Study author Dr. Hemalatha, Director at India’s National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), said implementing millet-based meals required menus to be designed for different age groups utilising culturally sensitive and tasty recipes.
This should also be complemented with awareness and marketing campaigns to generate an understanding and interest in millets? said Dr. Hemalatha.