This research poster and abstract was presented by Nisha Sharma at the 2018 Nutrition Innovation Lab Symposium held in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Convenience and child preference drive Kathmandu Valley caregivers to choose commercial snack foods for their children aged 12-23 months
Authors and Affiliations:
Nisha Sharma (1), Alissa Pries (1,2), Atul Upadhyay(1), Babita Adhikari(1), Suzanne Filteau(2), Elaine Ferguson (2)
(1) Helen Keller International, (2) London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Consumption of commercial snack foods (CSFs) is prevalent among children 6-23 months of age in Kathmandu Valley (Pries et al., 2016). These foods and beverages are typically nutrient-poor, which makes their consumption during the complementary feeding period concerning, because a nutritious diet is vital for growth and development. Understanding the reasons why caregivers choose these foods for their young children is needed to develop appropriate interventions to reduce high consumption of CSFs.
The aim of this qualitative study was to identify factors that influenced caregivers’ choices of commercial snack foods for their children 12-23 months.
Methods: Seven focus group discussions (FGD) and participatory exercises were conducted among primary caregivers (mothers and grandmother) of children 12-23 months of age in Kathmandu valley. In these FGD perceptions of snacks and factors influencing their use for young child feeding were discussed. Participatory exercises included: free listing of foods and beverages consumed by children as snacks, categorization into similar food groups, and ranking of snacks according to perceived healthiness, convenience, cost, and child preference.
Caregivers were aware that CSFs, such as instant noodles, cheeseballs, chips, and chocolates, were unhealthy and not nutritious for their young children and many categorized these foods as “junk foods”. Caregivers were aware of unhealthy ingredients in CSFs, including monosodium glutamate. Furthermore, they reported not trusting the ingredients and the processing used to manufacture some of these foods. Despite this awareness, caregivers of Kathmandu Valley reported feeding CSFs to their young children. The most important reasons they noted were convenience and child preference. Caregivers reported that CSFs were convenient for them when they lacked time to prepare home-made foods and were rushing to go somewhere or were busy with their work. They also noted CSFs were easy to feed young children because they ate them without fuss, and caregivers noted that children preferred CSFs over home-made foods. Mothers and grandmothers reported difficulty in avoiding feeding CSFs when children demanded or cried for them, often occurring when children saw CSFs outside the home/in stores. Some caregivers reported feeding CSFs when their child
refused to eat any other foods, explaining that these foods were given as ‘something to fill the stomach’.
Caregivers of children aged 12-23 months were aware that CSFs are not healthy and nutritious for their children. However, they reported feeding their children CSFs because they are convenient, and children liked them. These findings suggest interventions are needed for developing healthy and nutritious snack options which are appealing to children and convenient for the caregivers.
Pries, A. M., Huffman, S. L., Adhikary, I., Upreti, S. R., Dhungel, S., Champeny, M., & Zehner, E. (2016). High consumption of commercial food products among children less than 24 months of age and product promotion in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 12. https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.12267