Household food security and adequacy of child diet in the food insecure region north in Ghana
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Background and objectives Adequate diet is of crucial importance for healthy child development. In food insecure areas of the world, the provision of adequate child diet is threatened in the many households that sometimes experience having no food at all to eat (household food insecurity). In the context of food insecure northern Ghana, this study investigated the relationship between level of household food security and achievement of recommended child diet as measured by WHO Infant and Young Child Feeding Indicators.
Methods: Using data from households and 6–23 month old children in the 2012 Feed the Future baseline survey (n = 871), descriptive analyses assessed the prevalence of minimum meal frequency; minimum dietary diversity, and minimum acceptable diet. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association of minimum acceptable diet with household food security, while accounting for the effects of child sex and age, maternal -age, -dietary diversity, -literacy and -education, household size, region, and urban-rural setting. Household food security was assessed with the Household Hunger Scale developed by USAID’s Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance Project.
Results: Forty-nine percent of children received minimum recommended meal frequency, 31% received minimum dietary diversity, and 17% of the children received minimum acceptable diet. Sixty-four percent of the children lived in food secure households, and they were significantly more likely than children in food insecure households to receive recommended minimum acceptable diet [O.R = 0.53; 95% CI: 0.35, 0.82]. However, in 80% of food secure households, children did not receive a minimal acceptable diet by WHO standards.
Conclusions Children living in food secure households were more likely than others to receive a minimum acceptable diet. Yet living in a food secure household was no guarantee of child dietary adequacy, since eight of 10 children in food secure households received less than a minimum acceptable diet. The results call for research into factors besides household food security in the search for determinants of child diet adequacy. In this study at least, household food security was a very weak marker of child diet adequacy. This finding is of significance to public health practice, since it calls into question any assumption that having enough food in a household necessarily results in adequately fed children.