Food supplementation, nutritional intake of recipients and operational aspects: an integrated pilot nutrition initiative of BRAC

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Abstract

Objectives

To explore the nutritional quality of supplementary foods and additional energy consumption by the recipients in a pilot nutrition initiative of BRAC.

Design

In-depth interviews, observations during feeding at feeding centres, and laboratory analyses of supplementary foods for nutrient contents performed at the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Setting

Muktagacha thana (sub-district) in Mymensingh district, a rural area of Bangladesh.

Subjects

Pregnant and lactating mothers and children below 2 years of age.

Results

Analysis revealed that supplementary food, if taken completely, could provide daily energy equivalent to 752 kcal to a mother and 212 kcal to a child below 2 years of age. Mothers consumed about 75% of the food provided (∼564 kcal day−1). The food was shared mostly with young children and husbands. In-depth interview with mothers also suggested that they usually skipped breakfast if the food was given in the morning. The children liked the taste of food, and unless the child was sick or had some food before coming to the centre, she/he ate all the food provided. Although the main purpose of the project was to provide nutrition education, it was observed that activities at feeding centres were limited to food distribution with little time devoted to the communication of nutritional messages.

Conclusions

Training should be given to service providers to communicate nutritional messages effectively as part of understanding the goal of the initiative. It is important to explore whether the regular diets of the recipients are replaced by the food supplementation or not.

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