The impact of a nutrition education programme on feeding practices of caregivers with children aged 3 to 5 years in rural Limpopo Province, South Africa
Objective: To determine the impact of nutrition education on feeding practices of caregivers with children aged 3 to 5 years at baseline and post intervention.
Methodology: A pre-test–post-test control group design was chosen using eight villages (four villages in the experimental group (E) and four villages in the control group (C)). The nutrition education intervention programme (NEIP) comprised ten topics emphasising healthy eating, hygiene and sanitation.
Results: Majority of children in both the experimental and control groups were given three meals or more per day, including starchy and protein rich foods at baseline and post intervention. The median carbohydrates and protein intake in both groups was adequate when compared to the Estimated Average Requirements/Recommended Dietary Allowance (EAR/RDA), though median energy intake was inadequate. Even before intervention, the majority of children ate indigenous foods. Despite this, the intake of some indigenous foods did improve significantly in the experimental group, but not in the control group (termites; mopani worms; indigenous vegetables including black jack, spider flower and wild jute; and, indigenous fruits including baobab fruit and pawpaw). On the other hand, the intake of mixed traditional dishes as well as the intake of the indigenous foods, stinging nettle, meldar, wild peach, pineapple, dovhi, tshigume and thophi, increased significantly in both the experimental and control groups.
Conclusion: Due to the fact that most children in both groups consumed most food items, including indigenous foods, before the intervention, improvements were only seen in a few feeding practices in the experimental group after the NEIP.
Keywords: children, indigenous foods, nutritional practices