Main content area

Household Food Security, Food Consumption Patterns, and the Quality of Children's Diet in a Rural Northern Ghana Community

Armar-Klemesu, M., Rikimaru, T., Kennedy, D. O., Harrison, E., Kido, Y., Takyi, E. E. K.
child nutrition, eating habits, food availability, food consumption, food security, grains, households, iron, nutrient databanks, nutritional adequacy, preschool children, protein intake, vegetables, vitamin A, Ghana
Twenty households in a rural northern Ghana community were studied to ascertain evidence of seasonality and the relationship between household food-security status and the food and nutrient intakes of preschool children. All food consumed by household members was weighed for three consecutive days, and nutrient intakes were calculated from appropriate food composition tables. Diet quality was assessed by quantitative and descriptive analysis. Mean daily intakes of selected food items reflected an over-dependence on cereals and a minimal consumption of animal products. The consumption of vegetables, especially low during the pre-harvest season, increased during the post-harvest season. Nutrient intakes, which were generally lower than recommended dietary allowances, increased during the post-harvest season, although not significantly for calories, protein, and iron (p <.05), in contrast to vitamins A and C (p < .001). There was a significant association between household food-security status and the intakes of calories (p < .001) and protein (p < .01) but not of micronutrients. Diet quality was adversely influenced by a low intake of micronutrients derived primarily from plant sources as well as by poor dietary habits. Calorie and protein intakes appear to have been more influenced by household food availability and were subject to less seasonal fluctuation, while the reverse held true for the micronutrients. In addition, household food security did not necessarily ensure the quality of children's diets in an area where food consumption patterns are monotonous.