Perceptions of commercial snack food and beverages for infant and young child feeding: A mixed‐methods study among caregivers in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

© 2016 Sarah Hoibak/VectorWorks, Courtesy of Photoshare

This article was published in the Maternal & Child Nutrition Supplement: Marketing and Consumption of Commercial Foods Fed to Young Children in Low and Middle‐income Countries.

Abstract: Ensuring nutritious complementary feeding is vital for child nutrition. Prior research in Kathmandu Valley found high consumption rates of commercially produced snack foods among young children, which are often energy‐dense/nutrient poor. This mixed‐methods study was conducted to elicit Nepali caregivers’ perceptions of commercial snack foods and beverages and factors influencing their use for young child feeding. Seven facilitated focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted with Kathmandu Valley caregivers of children 12–23 months, and a survey of 745 primary caregivers of children 12–23 months of age was then conducted. During the FGD, caregivers reported commonly providing commercial food and beverage products to their children as snacks, and 98.6% of caregivers participating in the survey reported feeding their child such a food in the previous week. Because of processing and packaging, snack foods were not trusted by many FGD participants and considered as “junk foods” and not healthy for children. However, commercial snack foods were consistently ranked highly on convenience, both because of minimal preparation and ease of feeding; 48.5% of all surveyed caregivers reported providing a snack food because of convenience. Other family members’ diets or provision of snack foods as treats also influenced children’s consumption of these snack foods and beverages. This study indicates that caregivers of young children prefer snack options that are nutrient rich; however, this may conflict with preferences for foods that require minimal preparation and are appealing to young children. Such findings carry programmatic implications for interventions aiming to address children’s diet quality in urban Nepal.

Authors: Nisha Sharma, Elaine L. Ferguson, Atul Upadhyay, Elizabeth Zehner, Suzanne Filteau & Alissa M. Pries

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