Universities to use Lae primary schools as focus of nutrition study


A study on nutrition will be conducted at two primary schools in Lae for the first two terms of the school year, starting this week.
Children attending Huonville Primary and St Paul’s Lutheran Primary will be involved in a six-month study by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in Sydney, and the PNG University of Technology (Unitech).
The study will look into mineral and vitamin malnutrition and it is an initiative of Goodman Fielders International.
It is supported by the Morobe provincial government’s health section and the national Department of Health. It will look at the effect of nutrition-improved wheat-based food on the health of primary school children aged between six and 12 years.
“Children don’t eat enough good food that contains nutrients which are good for their body,” said Jayashree Arcot, the lead investigator from the University of New South Wales
“We are not eating the right amount and we are not getting enough nutrients from the food that we are eating.”
“We need to somehow get nutrients in our food, so we need to find ways to boost our nutrients intake.”
Arcot said that during the study, students will eat biscuits fortified with nutrients, including vitamins A and B, which can help minimise the type of food deficiencies that cause malnutrition.
He said that at 10am everyday for the next six months, students will eat a 24-gram nutrient-filled biscuit.
Momase region deputy chief paediatrician Dr Theresia Rongap said the study is a good step forward to minimising malnutrition in the province.
“PNG has the highest rate of malnutrition and Morobe has the biggest number of children living with malnutrition,” she said.
“The province has programmes to treat children, especially through medicine intake, but there are not many efforts to have food supplement such as biscuits.
“The malnutrition rate in Morobe is still high and we need to find ways to help improve nutrition levels for our children.”

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