Impact of Community-Based Nutrition Education on Geophagic Behavior and Dietary Knowledge and Practices among Rural Women in Nakuru Town, Kenya: A Pilot Study

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Abstract

Objective:

Geophagia, the deliberate consumption of rocks, soil, or clay, is prevalent in developing countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. Health risks associated with this behavior include parasitosis, heavy metal poisoning, nutrient deficiencies, and poor birth outcomes. This pilot study was designed to reduce geophagic practices and improve nutrition among rural Kenyan women.

Methods:

The researchers used snowball sampling to recruit participants (n = 135; aged 15–49 years) from low socioeconomic areas who consumed geophagic materials. Interviews were carried out before and after a nutrition intervention implemented by trained community health volunteers.

Results:

Nutrition education focusing on geophagia significantly (P < .001) decreased the practice in 77% of participants. Postintervention interviews also demonstrated substantial improvement in understanding the concept of making half the plate vegetables using the healthy plate model.

Conclusions and Implications:

Nutrition education can be useful for reducing geophagia (a largely ignored, unsafe dietary behavior) and enhancing nutritional knowledge in African women.

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