The Oportunidades Program’s Fortified Food Supplement, but Not Improvements in the Home Diet, Increased the Intake of Key Micronutrients in Rural Mexican Children Aged 12–59 Months
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Mexico's Oportunidades program provides conditional cash transfers, nutrition education, health services, and fortified food supplements for the young children of poor families. We have documented the effects of the program on growth and reduction of anemia. To better understand the impact pathways and disentangle the relative effects on dietary intake of the food supplements compared with other program components, we analyzed data from a randomized effectiveness evaluation of the Oportunidades program in rural children aged 12-59 mo. All Oportunidades beneficiaries received the cash transfers and the health and education components, but some children did not consume the supplements. The children's diet was evaluated using a single 24-h recall. The impact was estimated using multiple linear regression models with community-level random effects. Comparisons were made among children who received all the benefits of Oportunidades, including the fortified food supplement (SG), beneficiaries of the program who did not consume the food supplement (NSG), and the control group (CG). Relative to the NSG and CG, respectively, the SG consumed greater amounts of [mean (95% CI)]: energy, 94(28, 160) and 111(43, 180) kcal/d; iron, 7.6(6.3, 8.9) and 7.7(6.5, 9.0) mg/d; zinc, 7.5 (6.4, 8.6) and 7.6(6.5, 8.7) mg/d; and vitamin A, 0.109 (0.071, 0.147) and 0.120 (0.080, 0.159) mg retinol equivalents/d. No differences were found between the NSG and CG (P > 0.05). To conclude, the Oportunidades program had a positive impact on the diet of children. The effects of the program on dietary intake resulted from the food supplement and not from improvements in the home diet. Our findings are useful for identifying which program components contributed to the effects on the nutritional status of children. J. Nutr. 143: 656-663, 2013.
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