A complementary food was developed from the vitamin A rich orange fleshed sweet potation to help reduce vitamin A deficiency among infants. Experimental research design was used for the study. Fifty six infants of ages 6-24 months were purposively sampled, together with their mothers, to evaluate 3 complementary food samples code named GAD, PEA, SAB and a control KAN. A questionnaire was used to collect data. The samples were formulated from orange fleshed sweet potato, anchovies, onion and tomatoes and the nutrients and functional properties determined. The results showed that the 3 complementary foods were nutrient dense with high moisture content highest in PEA and least in GAD. Although GAD had the least moisture content, it turned out to have the highest ash content. GAD, PEA and SAB were all high in protein and fibre but lower in fat and carbohydrate, GAD had the highest β carotene content and bulk density while SAB had the least for both parameters. The water absorption capacity was higher in PEA, giving it a high swelling power but lowest solubility index. The lower absorption capacity of SAB was coupled with highest solubility index. GAD on the other hand had low swelling power. KAN (control) was the most accepted, followed by GAD, PEA and SAB although it was not significantly different from these 3. Comments received from the evaluation by panellists showed that probably, decreasing the amount of fish powder added and making the texture smooth would make all 3 products liked as much as KAN, the control. It is recommended that the complementary food samples be reformulated so as to increase the carbohydrate content.

Background to the Study
Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a global public health problem and is significant in under-privileged communities of the world (World Health Organization, 2009). Asia, Latin America and Africa record the highest incidence of vitamin A deficiency (World Health Organization, 2006). Sommer and Davidson (2002) defined vitamin A deficiency as serum retinol less than 20 microgram per decilitre (ug/dL). Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2009 projected that about 1.02 billion people globally will be affected by acute micronutrient deficiencies with vitamin A deficiency being ranked as the highest (Nair, Arya, Vidnapathiranad, Tripathi, Talukder

Srivastava, 2012). African countries report the greatest number of pre-school children with night blindness and for more than one-quarter of all children with sub clinical vitamin A deficiency (WHO, 2009). According to West (2002), about 127.2 million pre-school children worldwide were deficient in vitamin A. Out of this 25% were found in developing countries like Ghana and 26% lived in Africa. Egbi (2012) reported an estimated vitamin A deficiency prevalence rate of 35.6% in Ghana.

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient needed in minute amounts for the normal functioning of the visual system, boosting of the immune system, maintaining epithelial cellular integrity and also supporting growth and development (Tariku, Fekadu, Ferede, Abebe & Adane, 2016). It is found in a number of forms such as retinol, retinal, retinoic acid or retinyl ester. Vitamin A requirements are usually expressed in retinol equivalents (RE). Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) arises when a diet provides inadequate vitamin A to meet physiological needs which may be worsened by high rates of infection, especially diarrhoea and measles (WHO, 2009). Vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness, severe anaemia, wasting, reproductive and infectious morbidity, and increase risk of mortality (Sommer & Davidson, 2002). VAD also increases the severity of infections such as measles and diarrhoeal disease in children, and slows recovery from illness (GSS, 2008). Acute vitamin A deficiency (VAD) causes xerophthalmia, which is the inability to see in low light or darkness (Ross, 2010).

Infants commence their life with an urgent need for vitamin A. Hence, infants from 1–59 months of age have increased need of vitamin A to sustain their rapid growth and to fight infections (WHO, 2011). United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (2016) reports that high dose of vitamin A supplements ought to be provided to infants every four (4) to six (6) months until they are five years old.

Vitamin A can be found in two (2) main dietary sources; retinoid from animal sources and pro-vitamin A carotenoid from plants. Retinoid is found in animals and its products like fish, eggs, liver and full -cream milk (Guthrie & Picciano, 1995; Trumbo, Yates, Schlicker & Poos, 2001), whereas pro-vitamin A carotenoid is found in plant based foods such as dark green, orange and yellow fleshed vegetables and fruits (Harrison, 2005), which is later converted into retinol (vitamin A) in the gut (de Pee, West, Hautvast, Muhilal, Karyadi

West, 1995). Foods from animal origin provide the best source of vitamin 

A. However, a greater number of people in developing countries like Ghana cannot afford purchasing and consuming lots of animal products (Onyango, 2003).

After the first 6 months of an infant’s life, breast milk alone cannot provide the full nutrients needed for proper growth and development thereby creating a gap in the nutritional requirements (WHO, 2003; Dewey, 2001), hence the introduction to complementary foods. Nutritional requirements of infants are most critical during this period of complementary feeding where both macro and micronutrients may be insufficient to maintain growth and development (Ojinnaka, Ebinyasi, Ihemeje & Okorie, 2013).

In Ghana, most of the complementary foods prepared are cereal-based (Amagloh, Weber, Brough, Hardacre, Mutukumira & Coad, 2012a). These cereal-based foods are often poor nutritional sources of vitamin A (Amagloh, Hardacre, Mutukumira, Weber, Brough, & Coad, 2012; Amagloh & Coad, 2014). Lutter, Rodriguez, Fuenmayor, Avila, Sempertegui and Escobar (2008) and Amagloh et al. (2012), identified vitamin A deficiency to be among the world’s most prevalent nutritional problems. There are numerous strategies that can be employed to redress the issues of vitamin A deficiency. These include; food fortification, vitamin A capsule supplementation, food diversification and nutrition education. According to Allen (2008), food–based strategies have been recognized as a more workable and sustainable alternative for addressing micronutrient deficiencies.

Sweet potato is known scientifically as Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam. It is one of the chief staple crops and the most key food security promoting root crop in the world, especially in sub Saharan Africa (Low, Lynam, Lemaga,

Crissman, Bakr & Thiele, 2009). Sweet potatoes have several health benefits, such as improving blood sugar regulation, improving vitamin A status and reducing risk of several types of cancer (United Nations Population Division, 2007).

According to Picha and Padda, (2009), and Burri, Chang and Neidlinger, (2011), some varieties of sweet potatoes have high amount of ß-carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A. Orange-fleshed sweet potato is ranked as one of the most competent plant sources of β-carotene, the pro-vitamin A (Hagenimana & Low, 2000) therefore may be used to lessen vitamin A deficiency amongst children. Orange-fleshed sweet potato was chosen in this study because of its high ß-carotene content, which makes it a potential crop in alleviating vitamin A deficiency among children in Ghana.

Statement of the Problem
The period of complementary feeding is a crucial stage in an infant’s life. In Ghana, complementary foods are normally prepared from either cereals only or blended with legumes. These complementary foods are not fortified with vitamins and minerals and normally of low nutritive value which affects the developmental growth of infants.

Sweet potato (orange fleshed variety) is grown and promoted in Ghana by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture but is currently being underutilized. It has high β carotene content but easily perishable, therefore it cannot be stored for a long period of time. It should be processed to prolong its shelf life and diversify its uses. Increasing the utilization and the consumption of orange fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) in children’s diet may be an excellent approach to reducing vitamin A deficiency in Ghana as an estimated prevalence rate of 35.6% was reported in Ghana in 2012 (Egbi, 2012).

It is in view of this, that the researcher developed complementary food from orange fleshed sweet potatoes that would be accepted by the populace so as to help reduce the problem of vitamin A deficiency especially among infants in Cape Coast and its environs.

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