Coffee and child nutrition
The other day I came across a very interesting article debating the merits of using coffee to provide basic nutritients to children in some communities in Chiapas, one of the poorest states in Mexico. The article, entitled U.S, Mexican companies join forces to bring fortified coffee to malnourished kids in Chiapas, describes a program to add folic acid and other nutrients to coffee consumed by elementary school children in Chiapas. Supporters of this concept say that fortifying a product that children already consume is the easiest way to provide the nutrients to youngsters that they would otherwise not receive through their daily diet. Mexico has already made some effort to add nutrition to the diets of its population by fortifying tortillas. (That link was the google-translated version. Here is the original article in Spanish)
Having spent my childhood in Mexico, I know that many children drink coffee in that country. In most cases it's cafe con leche, which is at least one-half milk and one-half coffee. (This product may be familiar to many of us who consume lattes at the popular corner coffee shops). In many poor communities, milk may not be available, so the coffee is made primarily with water.
Critics say children should not be encouraged to drink coffee. "It doesn't seem like a good idea, given that coffee isn't an adequate drink for children," said the Chiapas health department.
Regardless of the merits of using coffee or other means to provide nutrients to kids, the bottom line is that enhancing nutrition for children (and adults) should be a priority of all societies.
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