© 2019 South African Association of Botanists Severe wasting affects 16 million children globally, while 159 million children have stunted growth. In South Africa, some 2.3 million children are undernourished. Snacking plays a pivotal role in the diets of children; however, the consumption of unhealthy snacks or ‘junk’ food poses a serious risk to a child's nutritional status. The aim of this study was to determine the snacking preferences of children as well as develop a snack supplemented with Moringa oleifera leaf powder (MOLP) and assess the effect of MOLP on the nutritional composition and consumer acceptability of the snack. Moringa oleifera was selected for snack development because it is nutrient-rich. A preliminary survey (n = 77) was carried out to determine the type of snacks commonly given to children, prevalence of vegetable consumption, and utilisation of MOLP as a food source. A questionnaire containing both open- and closed-ended questions was used in the survey. Using referenced methods, snack samples containing, 0% (control), 1%, 3% and 5% (w/w) MOLP were prepared. Standard methods were used to evaluate the quality of the snacks in terms of colour, texture, nutritional composition and consumer acceptability. The survey results showed that 87% of the caregivers gave children snacks daily. The snacks commonly given to children were savoury (73%), fruity (53%), dairy (46%) and sugary (43%) types. The snacks containing 1% MOLP were almost as acceptable as the control in terms of all sensory attributes evaluated, including overall acceptability. They had higher concentrations of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, iron and crude protein, but less fat compared to the control. The results indicate that snacks supplemented with MOLP can contribute to improving food and nutrition security status of children among vulnerable population groups.
- Consumer acceptability
- Moringa oleifera leaf powder (MOLP)
- Nutritional composition