Cereal fortification programs in developing countries.
Malnutrition is a major problem among children especially in the developing world. In most developing countries children show growth faltering between 6 and 24 months of age due to inadequate complementary feeding. Complementary foods are transitional foods given in addition to breast milk, following exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months, to meet the full nutritional requirements of the infant. Strategies to improve the availability of and accessibility to low cost complementary foods can play an important role in improving the nutritional status of infants and young children. Cereals constitute the most suitable vehicle for delivering micronutrients to an at-risk population because of their widespread consumption, stability and versatility. To reduce the vulnerability to the health impacts of micronutrient deficiencies, several developed and developing countries have adopted various innovative, cost-effective strategies to fortify cereal-based complementary foods and to reach children through public programs. This article reviews cereal fortification programs in developing countries, with special reference to low cost fortified complementary foods, and emphasizes the need for public-private-civic sector initiatives to improve the health and wellbeing of people around the world.