The Study of Household Dietary Practices and Nutritional Status of Under-Five Children in Ekiti State
The study assessed the nutritional status of the under-five children and identified the dietary practices of mothers. It also determined the relationship between dietary practices of mothers and nutritional status of their under-five children with a view to assessing the health and well being of the children. Under-five children and their mothers in three selected local government areas of Ekiti State participated in the study and employed a cross-sectional descriptive design. One local government was selected per senatorial district and eight hundred mothers with one of their children aged 0-59 months were randomly selected through a multistage sampling technique from urban and rural communities for the study. Data were collected with the aid of a pre-tested, semi-structured interviewer administered questionnaire. Nutritional status was assessed by employing weight-for-age, height-for-age and weight-for-height measurements. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistical methods. The results showed that the mothers' mean age was 29.3 ±8.7 years while the children's mean age was 21.5 ±16.1 months. Twenty four percent had normal nutritional status, 36.6% were stunted, 28.6% were underweight while 11% were wasted. Dietary practices adopted were: exclusive breastfeeding (34%); infant formula only (26%); while 40% engaged mixed feeding along with breastfeeding in the first six months of life. The study further showed that 40% of the mothers initiated breastfeeding within 24 hours of life while 55% fed their children on demand but 48% of the mothers' breastfed for less than 12 months. However, over 65% of the mothers introduced complementary feeding to their children before six months of life and feeding bottle (44%) was mostly the complementary feeding method adopted by them. In addition, age of the children (x2 = 83.98; p<0.05), time of initiation of breastfeeding (x2 = 46.11; p<0.05), duration of breastfeeding (x2 = 30.72; p< 0.05), pattern of breastfeeding (x2 = 22.01; p<0.05), age of introduction of complementary feeds (x2 = 37.14 p<0.05), feeding method adopted (x2 = 115.91; p< 0.05) and location of children. (x2 = 70.54; p<0.05) significantly influenced the nutritional status of the under-five children. Furthermore, mother's educational status (x2 = 74.39; p<0.05), and age (x2 = 113 .12; p<0.05) and father's occupation (x2 = 83.98; p<0.05) also significantly affected the children's nutritional status. The study concluded that delayed initiation of breastfeeding, improper methods of feeding, early introduction to complementary feeds plus food taboos were significant risk factors for under nutrition among under-fives.