Association of food consumption patterns and nutritional status of children under 5 years from rural households in Northern regions, Namibia

Maria Angula, Anthony Ishola, Muvari Tjiurutue, Nozizwe Chigonga, Michael Sulyok, Rudolf Krska, Chibundu N Ezekiel, Jane Misihairabgwi

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Abstract

Many developing countries, Namibia included, have a high prevalence of malnutrition among children, especially in rural subsistence farming areas where inadequate food supply is common. Poor diets in children under 5 years may result in negative health impacts. This study determined the association of food consumption patterns and nutritional status of children under 5 years from rural households in Oshana and Oshikoto regions in Namibia. Employing a cross-sectional descriptive design, 377 children under 5 years participated in this study using purposive sampling. Validated dietary diversity and food frequency questionnaires were used to obtain information on demographic characteristics, commonly consumed food per week, and meal frequencies for the recruited children. Anthropometric measurements Background
Many developing countries, Namibia included, have a high prevalence of malnutrition among children, especially in rural subsistence farming areas where inadequate food supply is common. Poor diets in children under 5 years may result in negative health impacts. This study determined the association of food consumption patterns and nutritional status of children under 5 years from rural households in Oshana and Oshikoto regions in Namibia.

Method
Employing a cross-sectional descriptive design, 377 children under 5 years participated in this study using purposive sampling. Validated dietary diversity and food frequency questionnaires were used to obtain information on demographic characteristics, commonly consumed food per week, and meal frequencies for the recruited children. Anthropometric measurements were obtained to assess nutritional status of children using Emergency Nutrition Assessment (ENA) software. Descriptive and inferential statistics were computed using the IBM® SPSS® Statistics (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) version 27.

Results
Staple foods, mostly grains, roots and tubers, along with flesh foods, legumes and nuts were commonly consumed. Vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables were solely consumed in Oshana region (10.7%) and not in Oshikoto. Oshana exhibited a lower dietary diversity score (4±1 SD) compared to Oshikoto (5±1 SD). The prevalence of adequate feeding practices varied, with Oshana having 38.8% meeting minimum milk feeding frequency (MMFF), 55.6% minimum dietary diversity (MDD), 69.8% minimum meal frequency (MMF), and 27% minimum acceptable diet (MAD). In Oshikoto, these figures were lower at 2%, 7%, 32%, and 0.5%, respectively. Stunting, underweight, wasting, and overweight were also documented, with slight differences between the two regions. The study did not find association between nutritional status and MMFF, MDD and MAD. However, significant associations were found between specific food types, amount of food, breastfeeding length, MMF and malnutrition indicators in both regions (p<0.05).

Conclusion
Most study participants consumed locally available staple foods. Stunting, underweight, and wasting were prevalent among children in the two regions which were significantly associated to the amount of food consumed, MMF and/ some food types. Improving food environments and eliminating access barriers to diversified diets can mitigate high prevalence of malnutrition among rural children.
Original languageEnglish
Article number51
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Nutrition
Volume10
Early online date18 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 18 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Food consumption patterns
  • Child health
  • Nutritional status
  • Malnutrition

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