Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Inadequate dietary intake is not the cause of stunting amongst young children living in an informal settlement in Gauteng and rural Limpopo Province in South Africa: the NutriGro study

M Therona1 c1, A Amissaha2, IC Kleynhansa1, E Albertsea3 and UE MacIntyrea4

a1 Department of Hospitality Management, Faculty of Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure, Tshwane University of Technology, Private Bag X680, Pretoria 0001, South Africa

a2 Department of Hotel Catering and Institutional Management, Accra Polytechnic, South Africa

a3 Faculty of Natural Sciences, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

a4 Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Medical University of South Africa, South Africa


Objective To measure dietary intakes of young children aged 12–24 months and to determine the impact of poor diets on stunting.

Design A quantitative food-frequency questionnaire was adapted, tested and standardised. Trained enumerators conducted in-depth interviews with the mothers/caregivers of the children. Forty stunted children in urban informal settlements and 30 stunted children in rural areas were selected and pair-matched with controls. The data were captured on the Food Finder Program of the Medical Research Council.

Results In both urban and rural areas, the diet of stunted and non-stunted groups did differ significantly and all diets were of poor nutritional quality.

Conclusion Diets in both areas resembled the recommended prudent diet, i.e. low in fat and high in carbohydrates. Poor quality diets were not the primary cause of stunting.

(Received November 29 2004)

(Accepted July 26 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email: