Factors Influencing Food Choices for Young Children in Rural Areas

Jim Crocker
6th July, 2024

Factors Influencing Food Choices for Young Children in Rural Areas

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study in rural Ethiopia found that only 41.2% of children consumed dairy, 16.4% ate eggs, and 2.3% had meat
  • Household food security significantly increased the likelihood of children consuming dairy, eggs, and meat
  • Livestock ownership and maternal education were key factors in improving children's consumption of animal source foods
The study conducted by Hawassa University[1] focused on the consumption of animal source foods (ASF) among infants and young children (IYC) aged 6-23 months in rural districts of Ethiopia. The study aimed to assess the prevalence of ASF consumption and identify the factors influencing this dietary practice, which is crucial for the nutritional well-being and cognitive development of children. The importance of a diversified diet, including ASF, has been well-documented. Earlier studies have shown that chronic diseases and poor cognitive development can be mitigated through proper nutrition starting from prenatal stages[2][3]. Despite these findings, there is limited research on ASF consumption among IYC in developing regions, making this study particularly relevant. The researchers employed a cross-sectional design, sampling 606 IYC from Oromia and Sidama regional states. Data were collected using interviewer-administered questionnaires and a 24-hour dietary recall to capture ASF consumption. The study found that dairy, eggs, and meat were consumed by 41.2%, 16.4%, and 2.3% of the children, respectively. These low consumption rates highlight a significant gap in the dietary diversity of these children. Several factors were identified as contributing to ASF consumption. Household food security was a major determinant, significantly increasing the odds of consuming dairy, eggs, and meat. This aligns with previous findings that dietary diversity, including ASF, is often better in households with higher food security[4]. Livestock ownership, such as cows, donkeys, and chickens, also played a crucial role in increasing dairy and egg consumption. This indicates that agricultural practices directly influence dietary outcomes, further supporting the idea that nutrition-sensitive agriculture can enhance dietary diversity[4]. Maternal education emerged as another significant factor. Mothers with higher educational achievements were more likely to ensure their children consumed dairy products. This finding is consistent with earlier research that underscores the importance of maternal education in improving child nutrition[5]. Educated mothers are more likely to be aware of nutritional needs and the benefits of diversified diets, including ASF. The study also found that households that produced root crops had higher odds of egg consumption. This suggests that agricultural diversity within a household can contribute to better nutritional outcomes for children. The role of root crop production in enhancing dietary diversity is an interesting finding that warrants further exploration. In conclusion, the study by Hawassa University sheds light on the low rates of ASF consumption among IYC in rural Ethiopia and identifies key factors that can improve this dietary practice. Household food security, livestock ownership, maternal education, and agricultural diversity were all significant contributors. These findings reinforce the need for integrated approaches that combine nutrition education with agricultural extension activities to enhance ASF consumption and overall dietary diversity among children. This study not only corroborates earlier findings[2][3][4][5] but also provides actionable insights for improving child nutrition in developing regions.

NutritionHealthAnimal Science

References

Main Study

1) Animal source food consumption practice and factors associated among infant and young children from selected rural districts in Ethiopia: A cross-sectional study.

Published 5th July, 2024

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0306648


Related Studies

2) Sir Richard Doll Lecture. Developmental origins of chronic disease.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2011.11.014


3) The influence of children's diet on their cognition and behavior.

https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-008-3003-x


4) Dietary diversity and associated factors among children 6-23 months of age in Gorche district, Southern Ethiopia: Cross-sectional study.

https://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-016-0764-x


5) World Health Organization (WHO) infant and young child feeding indicators: associations with growth measures in 14 low-income countries.

https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-8709.2011.00380.x



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