High use of commercial food products among infants and young children and promotions for these products in Cambodia

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This article was published in the Maternal & Child Nutrition Supplement: Availability, Promotion and Consumption of Commercial Infant Foods.

Abstract: Despite national improvements in child survival, 40% of Cambodian children less than 5 years of age are stunted. Commercially produced complementary foods could be nutritionally beneficial for young children in Cambodia if fortified and of optimal nutrient composition. However, other nutrient-poor commercially produced snack foods may be detrimental to young child feeding by displacing consumption of other nutritious foods. This study assessed consumption of commercial food products among infants and young children and their mothers’ exposure to promotions for these products. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 294 mothers of children less than 24 months of age living in Phnom Penh. Of children 6-23 months of age, 55.0% consumed a commercially produced snack food product on the prior day, and 80.6% had consumed one in the prior week. Only 12 (5.4%) children 6-23 months of age had consumed a commercially produced complementary food. Almost all mothers (96.9%) had observed a promotion for a commercially produced snack food product, and 29.3% reported observation of a promotion for a commercial complementary food. Only one-third (32.9%) of children 6-23 months of age achieved a minimum acceptable diet. Findings indicate that there is a need to improve infant and young child feeding practices among children less than 24 months of age living in Phnom Penh. Nutritious options should be promoted, and consumption of unhealthy commercially produced snack food products should be discouraged.

Authors: Alissa M. Pries, Sandra L. Huffman, Khin Mengkheang, Hou Kroeun, Mary Champeny, Margarette Roberts and Elizabeth Zehner

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