“Improvement of Nutrition and Health Status of Children with Body Weight
Abstract prepared by Elena Manvelyan MD.PhD Head of NGO Armenian Women for Health
&Healthy Environment (AWHHE)
Corresponding author: Dr. Anahid Nanagulyan - Head of department of toxic enteric
Diseases of Infectious Children’s Hospital “Nork’’
Objectives of the research:
? To improve general health and nutrition status, in particular during early childhood
? To raise awareness in families and professionals (e.g.
medical stuff, nutritionists) about the healthy diet and nutritional
value of amaranth grain
? To introduce amaranth in the diet of the children with malnutrition
The phenomenon of poverty affecting Armenia is a consequence of many problems that emerged
following the independence of the country in 1991. The government of Armenia faced the aftereffects of
the 1988 earthquake, the existence of hundreds of thousands of homeless refugees from Azerbaijan,
transportation blockade, etc.
Poverty has a profound impact on the health and welfare of children. Poverty robs children of the right to
grow to their full potential, exposing children to terrible environmental risks to their health and
Poverty is underlying cause of both the ill-health and under-nourishment of children.
Insufficient nutrition has a negative effect on the human immune system, and particularly on developing
fetus and child’s immune system. The decreased immunity of children causes severe diarrhea, which
promotes the deterioration of the children’s health.
Malnutrition is the single most important factor for disease. Limited access to a range of fresh, wholesome
foods after weaning means that many children are undernourished. Malnutrition reduces immunity, so
children are more likely to catch infections. Infections place further nutritional demands on the body,
creating a vicious circle.
Starting from 1990 Armenia has encountered a problem of starving children. Till the last decade there
was no problem of toxic dystrophy among the infants. This appeared as a consequence of malnutrition
due to worsening of socio-economic conditions. The starvation and malnutrition has mainly affected the
children from vulnerable families, whose parents are unemployed for a prolonged period of time.
According to some mothers, they fed their children who had diarrhea only with tea and rice for weeks and
as a consequence the children developed edemas and drew back in weight by more than 50% percent
and sometimes more.
We had often seen images of such children from drought stricken regions in Africa, but we did not believe this could happen in Armenia (see photo)
Armenian child suffering from Malnutrition
The same child after being treated with a protein
mixture and diet with amaranth flour
On average, annually there are 70-90 patients from the age of 0-2, accepted to the hospital with the above –mentioned diagnosis. This shocking statistic does not reflect the reality, it only shows the existence of the problem. This is the tip of the iceberg. The main problem and the real number of children
in need is hidden, as so many of them do not have the access to doctors, health facilities, financial
resources, transportation, and finally necessary information on opportunities to be treated. The problem of
being underweight is severe for children of mothers with low levels of education.
In the frame of carried out project totally 50 children with body weight deficiency more then 30% were fed with amaranth flour products during 6 months after discharge from the hospital. The reasons
why this product was chosen for feeding children with malnutrition were:
• High levels of proteins and amino acids in amaranth (especially amino acids lysine and
• Higher than other plants levels of carbohydrates, calcium, iron, dietary fibers and vitamins.
• Approximately 48 % of very valuable starch.
The continuous assessment of children’s health status showed that their general condition became satisfactory, protein-free edemas disappeared and all children permanently gained weight.
Worsening of socio-economic conditions and insufficient nutrition bring to increase of morbidity
rates of various diseases such as severe diarrhea with toxic dystrophy due to malnutrition;
Malnutrition is stipulated by the lack of knowledge of parents on healthy diet especially on the
background of protein containing food dearth;
The health status of children with malnutrition after using the amaranth products during 6 months
had been improved;
Amaranth flour is strongly recommended for introducing in the diet for children with malnutrition.
The project Improvement of Nutrition and Health status of children in Armenia was supported by
Women of Europe for Common Future (WECF) and funded by private funds from the Netherlands.
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