Nearly 150 million children in the world suffer from stunted growth, a condition linked to chronic malnutrition that keeps people from reaching their full physical, mental and social potential. Evidence shows that animal-sourced foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy can help.
“Poor nutrition, infection, stress and poverty can contribute to stunting, and there is an important correlation between growth and animal-sourced food consumption,” said Christine Stewart, director of the Institute for Global Nutrition at UC Davis and Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition.
Take eggs, for example. Working with malnourished children in the highlands of Ecuador, Stewart and a team of scientists discovered that infants grew significantly more when mothers supplemented their diets with an egg each day. “We saw a nearly 50 percent reduction in stunting among the infants who received an egg daily for six months compared to those who did not,” said Stewart, who is also the Corinne L Rustici Endowed Chair in Applied Human Nutrition at UC Davis.
Egg yolks are rich in choline, an essential nutrient that supports liver function and healthy development of the brain, muscles and nervous system. Choline is lacking from the standard diet of many impoverished Ecuadorians who subsist mostly on rice, potatoes and thin soup. Stewart’s team tried to replicate the results in a similar experiment with infants living in Malawi. The test site was near Lake Malawi, Africa’s second-largest lake with an enormous variety of freshwater fish. Interestingly, eating an egg a day had no impact on child growth there. Poultry Site News