Feeding practices and nutrition distribution for preschool children (2-5 years) in Buwalasi Sub-county Sironko District.
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The overall objective of the study was to establish feeding practices and their effect on the nutrient distribution of foods for pre-school children in Buwalasi Sub County, Sironko District. The specific objectives included establishing the socioeconomic characteristics of households having pre-school children; examining the actual food types commonly fed to them; establishing their feeding patterns as well as the distribution of nutrients in foods they fed on over a 24-hour period. The study was a cross sectional survey that used random cluster sampling with each cluster corresponding to a block of houses of which at least one contained a preschool child. The Local Councillors (LCs) assisted in working on the demarcations of the blocks and their stratification as each household randomly selected was interviewed at their homes using structured questionnaire and few unstructured questions. Both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods were used. Quantitative data was grouped, tabulated and obtained by use of frequencies/percentages while the qualitative data was collected by observation, unstructured questionnaire to informants, and focus group discussions where responses were added to complement the quantitative data. The study findings indicated that most households had low incomes categorized as ‘peasant poor’; used scarce wood fuel for cooking; paraffin wick candles for lighting; and could not access radio messages because of the high cost of batteries. Most families owned cultural land though little. The profiles of dwellings revealed that the majority were semi permanent in nature, built of mud and wattle; one roomed that doubled as food stores; poor latrine facilities; poor drainage, sanitation and hygiene surrounding. The water sources while treachery, were also far from the dwelling which showed characteristics of low economic status. The findings also indicated that most preschool children were under the care of young mothers or female guardians with limited general education; little or no formal information on nutrition; little preference to children’s special nutritional needs, had little and poor food stores. They were unable to access foods available in markets; and the negative attitude towards certain foods potentially constituted factors that led to provision of poorly balanced meals for preschool children. Other findings of the study also indicated that majority of households had three meals per day which were fairly balanced. This meant that the majority had access to food for survival but lacked one or two of the four food groups required for a balanced meal. The majority of preschool children had meals together with their parents, which provided them an opportunity to learn behaviour and social eating etiquette to use later in life. It was concluded that nutrition of preschool children was intertwined with the whole aspect of household socioeconomic status and profile of guardians whereby the socio economic conditions of the parents/guardians limited the provision of adequate nutrients to preschool children. It was suggested that nutrition education information be disseminated to all stakeholders, deliberate growing of fruits and vegetables in addition to staple foods be encouraged and pursued. In addition, extension workers and other nutrition experts be deployed and their work monitored in the community to improve livelihoods; improved farming methods were required urgently; a law be enforced for each family to accumulate sufficient food stores and strengthen family bonds by encouraging families to eat together.