Dietary intake and cognitive development among children in Kisumu County, Kenya
Varied nutrient-dense and high-quality diet are key to ideal growth and cognitive function in the early years of life. Nutrient deficiency can lead to negative functional effects of the brain and poor cognitive function. High rates of poverty in developing countries predispose children to malnutrition. This study aimed at exploring factors associated with dietary intake and cognitive development among children in Kisumu County, Kenya. This was a cross-sectional study survey that recruited 192 children aged less than 24 months. Food frequency questionnaire and Bayleys Scale for Infant Development kit was used to collect data. It was revealed that a total of 51% were girls with 30% aged below 6 months. Only 12% had cognitive scores above average. Child cognitive scores were linked with age (p= 0.022), carbohydrate (p=0.021), fat (p=0.011) and iron (p=0.022) intake. Only 34% and 32% of children consumed diets adequate in proteins and iron, respectively. Of children aged above 18 months, only 13% consumed diet adequate in iron. Factors associated with carbohydrate intake included: mother's marital status (p=0.036) and her level of income (p=0.028) while protein intake related to the type of housing (p=0.013). Fat intake was linked with the mother's marital status (p=0.009) and her level of income (p=0.001) while the iron intake was linked to the mother's level of income (p=<0.001) and her educational level (p< 0.001). Vitamin A intake was linked to the ability to pay rent by the household (p=0.016). Further analysis revealed that children whose fathers were earning more than Kenya shillings 3000.00 per month had 0.2 times lower risk of being above average on cognitive scores compared to those whose fathers were earning less than Kenya shillings 3000.00 per month, while those with an inadequate intake of carbohydrate had 8 times more risk of having cognitive scores above average compared to those whose diets were adequate. In conclusion, majority of children consumed diets inadequate in protein and iron while 12% of children had cognitive scores above average. Mother’s marital status, eduation and income influenced child’s dietary intake while their age groups and father’s income were associated with child's cognitive outcomes. Policies to enhance parental education and income level should be formulated to improve child's dietary and cognitive outcomes.
Key words: Dietary intake, Cognitive development, Children, Bayleys Scale for Infant Development, Malnutrition
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