Poultry interventions and child nutritional status in low-income countries
Poultry production with the majority of free-range chickens is widely practiced in rural communities of low-income countries. Chickens and their eggs are important sources of income and food for the family. Eggs are nutritious with high quality protein and several macro-and micro-nutrients. Evidences showed that increased consumption of eggs improved the nutritional status of children under the age of two years. Projects aimed at increased egg intake among infants and young children have been implemented with different models and approaches, resulting in different outcomes. This paper reviewed the effectiveness of interventional studies in increasing egg intake among infants and young children in low-income countries. A total of eight articles were selected using PubMed and Google Scholar search engines with inclusion criteria of interventions with randomized and controlled study design that measured egg intake among children under the age of two years in low income countries, published in the last five years (from 2015 to 2019) and written in English. The interventions were systematically classified into three categories based on their implementation model: agriculture/poultry only, nutrition education only, and integrated poultry and nutrition interventions. All the models showed
increased egg intake with different levels of significance. Poultry only interventions were successful in egg production in excess quantity increasing egg consumption of infants and young children. However, the interventions were challenged by caregivers’ priority for income from the sale of the eggs and birds than feeding the children. Hence, egg intake did not increase high enough to the level of an-egg-a-day despite production and availability. Promoting egg for complementary feeding, interventions of nutrition education only resulted in significantly increased egg intake among children under the age of two years. Nevertheless, its sustainability might be challenged as it requires buying eggs every time, creating an economic burden to the rural low-income families. The third model integrated poultry and nutrition interventions, significantly increased egg consumption even with small scale poultry using local chickens by improving nutrition awareness of caregivers and increasing egg availability at household level, demonstrating greater potential of sustainability. Poultry interventions targeting increased egg intake among infants and young children in low-income countries need to be integrated with nutrition education for maximum effect with minimal cost. Moreover, the implementation of strategies to reduce chicken excreta contamination of the environment is equally important for the children to benefit the maximum from increased egg intake.
Key words: egg intake, poultry, nutrition education, egg-a-day, low-income countries
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