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Heavy agricultural workloads and low crop diversity are strong barriers to improving child feeding practices in the Bolivian Andes

Publication Abstract

Jones, Andrew, Yesmina Cruz Agudo, Lindsay Galway, Jeffery Bently, and Per Pinstrup-Anderson. 2012. "Heavy agricultural workloads and low crop diversity are strong barriers to improving child feeding practices in the Bolivian Andes." Social Science and Medicine, 75(9): 1673-1684.

Most nutrition initiatives to date aimed at improving infant and young child feeding (IYCF) have emphasized addressing knowledge gaps through behavior change messaging with less focus on addressing the underlying environmental barriers that may shape these behaviors. This research integrates an analysis of longitudinal dietary data with qualitative data on barriers to improved child feeding to identify the nature and extent of the barriers caregivers face to improving IYCF practices in a farming region of the Bolivian Andes, and to determine the relative influence of these barriers on caregivers' abilities to improve IYCF practices. Sixty-nine caregivers were selected from a sample of 331 households that participated in a longitudinal survey assessing changes in IYCF practices among caregivers with children aged 0–36 months from March 2009 to March 2010. Forty-nine barriers within 12 categories of barriers were identified through semi-structured interviews with the 69 caregivers. The most frequently reported barriers were those related to women's time dedicated to agricultural labor, the limited diversity of household agricultural production, and lack of support for child feeding from spouses and mothers-in-law. In multivariate analyses controlling for several variables that could potentially influence IYCF practices, these barriers were negatively associated with changes to the diversity of child diets, child dietary energy intake, and child meal frequency. While knowledge gaps and individual-level influences affected IYCF practices, physical and social caregiving environments in this region of Bolivia were even more important. Behavior change communication alone will likely not address the social and environmental barriers to improved child feeding that often prevent translation of improved knowledge into action. Particularly in rural regions, agriculture may strongly influence child feeding, not only indirectly through household food security, but also directly by affecting women's caregiving capacity.

DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.06.025 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC3434953. (Pub Med Central)

Country of focus: Bolivia.

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