Association between dietary intake, health status and nutritional status of children aged 6-23 months in Namwala and Mkushi districts of Zambia.

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Hamaimbo, Thandie, Bubala
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The University of Zambia
Children with multiple measures of anthropometric failure are at a high risk of morbidity and mortality as a result of malnutrition. Some of the factors that contribute to the high levels of malnutrition which is described in forms of stunting, underweight, overweight and wasting in children 6-23 months include poor infant stimulation and nurturing, inadequate dietary nutrients and recurrent illnesses/infections which result in poor absorption of nutrients, poor cognitive development, growth failure and weight loss. These factors are common in developing countries such as Zambia where only 11% of children in this age group are fed appropriately according to WHO recommendations. Based on this background, this cross sectional study was done with the aim of investigating the association between dietary intake, prevalence of illnesses and nutritional status of children aged 6-23 months in Namwala and Mkushi districts of Zambia. A total of 213 children were enrolled, 108 and 105 from Namwala and Mkushi, respectively. A detailed questionnaire, anthropometric assessment as well as a complete stool analysis was done. Anthropometric, dietary intake, socioeconomic and demographic data collected was analysed using Anthroplus, NutriSurvey and SPSS version 23 software, respectively. The study revealed that none of the children were infected with intestinal parasites. However, 65.7% of the children presented with an illness two weeks prior and/or during the study. Illnesses identified in the study group included fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and coughs. In the two sites combined, 5.2% of the children did not meet the minimum dietary diversity requirements for this age group. Overall in Namwala district, the prevalence of stunting was 11%, 3.7% wasting, 3.7% underweight, 6.5% overweight while Mkushi district had 19% stunting, 3.8% wasting, 10.5% underweight and 5.7% overweight among children aged 6-23 months. The mean Height-for-age Z scores between Namwala (-0.51 ± 1.40) and Mkushi (- 1.04 ± 0.95) were significantly different (t0.05 3.245). Using multiple regression, the variables independently associated with HAZ scores in this study are child’s age (months), household non-food expenditure and consumption of mabisi (fermented milk). Health status was not significantly associated with nutritional status while dietary diversity showed a weak positive association with child nutritional status.
Anthropometric failure. , Underweight--Infants.