Academic journal article International Journal of Population Research

Does Household Food Insecurity Affect the Nutritional Status of Preschool Children Aged 6-36 Months?

Academic journal article International Journal of Population Research

Does Household Food Insecurity Affect the Nutritional Status of Preschool Children Aged 6-36 Months?

Article excerpt

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Recommended by Sidney R. Schuler

School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University for Development Studies, P.O. Box 1883, Tamale, Ghana

Received 15 February 2013; Revised 7 June 2013; Accepted 10 June 2013

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Introduction

Child undernutrition continues to be a major public health problem in developing countries including Ghana. According to the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, there is substantial regional variation of malnutrition in Ghana, with some of the poorest indicators found in the Northern part of the country. The estimated prevalence of chronic malnutrition, for example, in the Northern Region is 32.4% compared with a national average of 28% [1]. A recent UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted in 2011 showed that the prevalence of chronic under-nutrition in northern region of Ghana has increased from 32% in 2008 to 37% in 2011 [2]. According to the WHO (2000) classification of malnutrition, the malnutrition situation can be described as serious state in the northern region.

The persistent prevalence of chronic malnutrition in Northern Ghana is of particular concern that requires urgent attention and immediate action. To be able to address the problem adequately, it is important that the context-specific risk factors for malnutrition are identified for appropriate interventions to be implemented. The risk factors of malnutrition are multifaceted and complex, and the relative importance of each of the known risk factors of malnutrition including household food insecurity is likely to vary between settings. Food insecurity is probably one of the determinant factors of malnutrition in developing countries, but its role remains unclear. In particular, it is not known whether all children suffer from household food insecurity and at what extreme levels. Some studies have shown that in times of food insecurity, mothers are likely to reduce their own intakes to secure those of infants and small children [3, 4].

Food insecurity refers to limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire food in socially acceptable ways [5]. The access component of food insecurity comprises three core domains, namely, anxiety and uncertainty about household food supply, insufficient quality of food, and insufficient food intake by household members [6-8].

Though there are reported cases of household food insecurity in Northern Ghana, its contribution to child malnutrition remains unclear. To reach any conclusions about whether household food insecurity is independently associated with child malnutrition calls for further investigation. It is on the basis of this that this study used three dependent measures of food insecurity to assess the magnitude of household food insecurity and its consequences on the nutritional status of children 6-36 months and their mothers in Tamale Metropolis in Northern Ghana.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Study Design and Sampling Procedures

An analytical cross-sectional study was conducted on a sample of 337 mother/child pairs in June 2012. The required sample size was calculated based on the standard formula for one point sample estimation. The primary outcome variable used to estimate the sample size was the population proportion of the chronic malnutrition in the study area. A sample size of 323 was required to ensure that the estimated prevalence of the main outcome variable was within plus or minus 5% of the true prevalence at 95% confidence level. An additional 11 was added to take care of nonresponses and other unexpected events (e.g., damaged/incomplete questionnaire), and so the final sample size was adjusted to 341. …

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